I had a fun time at my bi-monthly shopping trek to Trader Joe’s, yesterday. It was my first trip to this particular store – it’s fairly new.

My, how things have changed since 2001 when I first went to work for them…

First off, is the size of the store. The back room was pretty much the size of the entire original store I worked in. Wide, spacious aisles. Twice the freezer space. Room to actually move – and it wasn’t in a second-tiered, run-down strip mall with crappy parking. No… it’s a rather upscale location.

There are three Trader Joe’s fairly equidistant from our home. This one, by far, was the easiest to get to and had the best parking lot. It may become my go-to. Friendly staff, as well.

Some things never change with them, though. I couldn’t find mayonnaise. I asked a young woman stocking the aisle and she said it had been discontinued. Mayonnaise. Discontinued. Go figure. And then my favorite coffee – Cafe Pajaro – also gone. It’s Peet’s Italian Roast from now on.

And prices are rising, as well. They are definitely not the low-price store I remember – and definitely more expensive for a lot of things than most of the local grocery stores in the area. Ketchup is still $1.99, though.

The frozen fish selection – one of my favorite sections – was also sadly lacking. I guess with more than 530 stores, it’s getting more difficult to supply them. Heck, there were only 120 stores in the chain when I started – and it wasn’t always easy keeping us stocked back then!

I did buy some swordfish while I was there, and a quick marinade in olive oil, red wine, and garlic was all it needed before hitting the grill.

One of my impulse buys was Garden Vegetable Hash – an 18oz container of diced vegetables for $4.99. I diced up some potato and an heirloom tomato, added some Italian Seasoning, and sauteed it in a bit of olive oil. It was okay, but I won’t rush out to get more, right away…

It was good to see some familiar products, but, with my favorite staples gone, I really am becoming a 5-6 time a year shopper compared to the weekly shopper I once was. I’m not their demographic…

Still, it was fun to be in the store and remember the 17 years I spent with them. And I did get a few fun things!