Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trader Joe's flowers

Above: Waterless daffodils at Trader Joe's on Court Street

Dear Trader Joe's

I can put up with the Hawaiian shirts, though they are not my cup of tea. I can put up with the homely signs, which are designed to make me feel comfortable in your aisles of limitless prepared foods. I can even tolerate, for a short time, the awful floor of linoleum brown squares under the vaulted ceiling of your Court Street premises.

But I am sick and tired of the dying flowers. You are selling daffodils for $2.99 a bunch. A steal! Ten irises for $3.99 a bunch. A steal! Tulips for $4.99! When will the the madness stop? Cheap!

They are sitting in plastic buckets. You know, the kind designed to hold water? They are empty. Dry. The flowers are parched. Not a drop to drink. They sit in the warm air of the store, these hosts of golden daffodils, Dutch tulips and stately iris, crying for moisture. I can hear them.

Like bees attracted to free honey, we buy them, take them home, cut their stems, give them a drink.

And then they die.

Because they have been waterless for days.

It is not a fluke. I have been keeping an eye on the Situation for two weeks. I bought irises two days ago. In tight bud. By today they unfurled three unhappy petals and curled up. Before that, 2 bunches of daffodils. Crispy at the edges after they managed to open one eye. Before that? Tulips. Two days, then kaput.

The one exception? Freesias. Why?


Not a single human in a Hawaiian shirt thinks to fill the the dozens of buckets with water. Why? Why sell something beautiful, perishable, something that has been harvested hundreds, sometimes thousands of carbon miles away, that you neglect on your watch, at the top of the food chain?

I'll tell you why. Because you don't care. You don't care about the flowers, the customer, or the bent-over labourers who picked them, en masse, for pennies. Your flowers seem cheap, but they are a rip off. You are wasting my money. You are wasting every mile they traveled. They cost more down the road outside Key Food, and they last three times as long. You sell flowers whose care along every step of the way until they reached you is squandered the minute they are through the Trader Joe's door.

I have been suspicious of you for a long time. Nobody should sell that much snack food.

And Hawaiian shirts look good on Hawaiians.

Above: Happy daffodils in water outside Key Food on Atlantic.

Update: March 2011. No improvement.


  1. Amen, sister! Don't shop Trader Joe's anyway, but the nearby Kroger has a flower lady, who clearly knows what she's doing. When I picked up alstroemeria this morning they were knee-deep in water.

    Hey, don't alstremeria grow in SA? I mean, like natively?

  2. I've never been in trader joes, but just last night I was talking to a friends girlfriend who happens to work at the union square joes. She didn't mention the hawaiin shirts. She did say that trader joes is packed because despite level of income, all nyers are insane about deals and scrap their way through the store as if we were all left to forage on Manhattan island in competition with 8 million others.

    Whew. Probably won't go then, find my deals elsewhere. IF I see her again, I'll mention the flowers.

    Little Bit O Water.

  3. Ooh! Sock it to 'em! I've had similar gripes here, the worst offence (in the olfactory sense) is chrysanthemums with leaves rotting in water.

    Such simple things, once learned as children...

  4. Here in CA where TJ's is from, the stores near us keep their flowers in good shape, including plastice bags and paper towels to keep the water off groceries and on the stems.
    However, don't get me started on what they have been doing to their chocolate prices!!!

  5. Marie; Where do you think Trader Joe's sends their spent flowers and dried up bouquets??? Yes, you guessed it...the local senior center and food bank as if we have the patience and green thumbs to nurture the flowers back. All too often, we end up sending many to the yard barrels for recycling. Sometimes we can bring the poor, potted ones back to life with drink of water....lost orphans given a new home. I don't know how Trader Joe's can stay in business given how much they donate to our senior center on a daily basis. Terrible inventory control. I feel for the cut flowers, too, and the growers who toiled so hard to sell the most beautiful that end up neglected by TJ's.

  6. This post hurts me. Almost as much as cruelty to office plants.

  7. The flowers are "dry packed" which means they are sent to the stores dry and are meant to stay dry (not in water) so that they open up when the customer brings them home and puts them in water. That is why you see buckets without water.

    Those people in Hawaiian shirts actually DO CARE.

  8. Hi Lisa, and thank you for your comment. Are you an insider?

    But I'm sorry, your explanation is laughable.

    Dry packed flowers need to be taken home - and put in water - at once. They are not supposed to sit, dry, for days on end. They are only packed dry for shipping.

    And if you take flowers home in bud they last much longer than parched flowers already open. This way the all important customer, as you say, enjoys their purchase longer.

    Keeping flowers dry - especially if it is deliberate as you say, so I assume you work there? - is a poor way to treat them, and shortens their life considerably. That is how they die, getting airlocks way up their stems.

    Flowers are not "meant to stay dry." Trust me.

    I have been back subsequently to see the Trader Joe's flowers and find that sometimes there is an inch or two of water in the buckets, so I think that is the way they are being kept unless someone forgets.


  10. Agreed. I've tried their flowers a couple of times, and each time they died. WTF? Thought for a moment it was me, but clearly not.


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