"shops" news and stories
Speaking of Dean & Deluca...lately I've been on a bit of a kitchen spending spree. Not only have I been going to the regular grocery store to buy basic things like eggs and milk to force myself to cook and eat at home, but I have been shopping for gourmet food stuff as well as kitchen utensils, gadgets, and equipment.
For the most part I have been loyal to...no one! Because I do a lot of the shopping online, I skip from Crate and Barrel for ice cream bowls to Dean & Deluca for pretty little things like spice tins to Williams-Sonoma for a pepper mill. I even found myself hoarding all those 20% and $5 off coupons to Bed, Bath and Beyond and getting Brita filters there. In other words, I have no favorite.
However, I know that many people do. At the very least, people have favorites for certain types of things, and might include small local stores. Where are your favorite places to shop?
Sex sells. Usually, it sells things like beer, various liquors and - of course - fatty fast food hamburger, but some Seattle area businesses are using it to sell something else entirely: coffee. Espresso joints with names like Natté Latté, Moka Girls Espresso, Cowgirls Espresso, The Sweet Spot and Bikini Espresso have decided to spice up their images with sexy outfits and flirtatious female baristas to try and attract business away from competitors.
At Cowgirls Espresso in Tukwila, WA, for example, barista Candice Law (pictured) says that she and the other baristas dress to different themes for different days. "Everybody's excited to see you," she said, as evidenced by the look on this customer's face on seeing his coffee served by a girl in a corset and thigh-high boots. At other establishments, "hot-pink hot pants and tight white tank tops," lingerie and "fetish" outfits are just part of the dress code.
Dubbed "sexpresso," the combination of sexy outfits and coffee is a relatively new concept and seems to be gaining in popularity as commutes get longer and consumers are more likely to take factors other than simple convenience into account when looking for coffee in the morning. As one (satisfied) customer said "If I'm going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, I'm not going to get served by a guy." The employees - just about all women - seem to like it, too, citing the friendly customers and huge tips as great incentives.
Owned by a German company called Albrecht Discounts, ALDI is a discount grocery chain that started in Germany in 1948. Decidedly no frills, the company stocks virtually all house-brand products, all offered at very low prices thanks to exclusive deals with their suppliers, many of which are big-name producers. ALDI has approximately 5,000 stores worldwide and the two Albrecht brothers, who own the company, are some of the riches men in the world.
But getting back to ALDI's business strategy, does this sound like another store that we know of? The same strategy, although executed by the US staff and tailored to their customers' tastes, is the exact same one used by Trader Joe's.
Trader Joe's, although it may be based in Southern California, is actually owned by Albrecht Discounts. The company was purchased back in 1979, long before it hit the cultural mainstream. Since that time, it has been left to turn itself into a very trendy, upscale grocery store by following a similar business plan to ALDI. TJs has low prices and a lot of store-brand products, but a different image that appeals to a different group of consumers.
There is a new website geared towards those who, like so many of us, spend a lot of time shopping and looking for that one great deal on an exotic sea salt, a rare olive oil, or a really decadent dessert. One Gourmet Goodie spotlights one gourmet food item every day and offers it at a discount price. The downside is that the selection is limited and the offer only lasts for 24 hours, but the upside is that this results in a fairly substantial discount. There are sites that offer this "deal of the day" type of service for other goods and services, but this is the first one that I've encountered that does so with things just for foodies.
Past items included a Halloween Cake sampler from Black Hound Bakery in New York (pictured), Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies from Simply Divine Heavenly Brownies, Chocolate Wine & Liqueur Sauce 2 Pack from Anette's Chocolates Napa Valley and an assortment of Cheddars from around the World. There are five new items each week, with the Friday item available throughout the weekend.
Filed under: Stores & Shopping
After far, far too long a time with their slow-loading yet content-less website, Trader Joe's has upgraded to something worth visiting. The site now offers a complete look at the history and values of the privately-owned company, as well as the same information on new locations and copies of their latest "Fearless Flyer" newsletter.
The best thing about the site is that they now have a great display of their new items. Once you select your location from the drop-down menu, a page with pictures and descriptions of some of the new products in your area comes up. I already found that Cheddar with Mango, Chile & Lime is a new type of cheese ("one of the most unique cheeses (ever!)") currently being offered, a product I might not have noticed simply stocked on the shelves. They also have a useful FAQ that answers some questions about labels and nutrition, in addition to clearing up the ever-present concern of whether Trader Joe's products will turn you "into a superhero, a professional athlete or one of the great brainiacs of humankind."
Great job with the website overhaul, TJs. We love having a site that we can use!