Taking a page, and products, from the quirky Trader Joe’s supermarket chain, one idealistic, enterprising Vancouverite offers great groceries at great prices.
SHOPPING AROUND | “Somebody had to do it.”
That’s the first line of the manifesto taped to the window of Transilvania Trading, a tiny food emporium that recently opened in the nether reaches of West Broadway Street in Kitsilano, a shop destined to become a haunt among Vancouver foodies on the lookout for interesting, healthy packaged foods at reasonable prices. Transilvania’s current raison d’être is to sell a selection of mostly dry products from Trader Joe’s, quite possibly the coolest, quirkiest supermarket chain in the U.S., though that’s by no means the only stuff shop owner Mike Hallatt plans to stock in the future.
Hi ho, hi ho: it’s off to Trader Joe’s
“We are not a substitute for a trip to Trader Joe’s,” says Hallatt, who encourages everyone to trek across the border to “TJ’s” Bellingham location: “It’s an incredible, alternative universe of grocery shopping (CLICK HERE for a great story on the company in Los Angeles magazine) where every product is excellent and the prices make $20 bags of groceries possible again.”
Stocking just a few hundred of the most popular of Trader Joe’s more than 8,000 products, Transilvania Trading feels like a minimart version of Trader Joe’s (a place to pop into for a Joe-Joe’s fix between regular runs to TJ’s in Bellingham), except that here you won’t find the price gouging associated with convenience stores (Hallatt pays retail for Trader Joe’s products then marks them up enough to cover costs)—or with grocery stores, for that matter.
“The Occupy movement is a fist in the face of the status quo across the board; it’s generic,” says Hallatt. “We want to be Occupy Grocery.” He’s starting with packaged goods but eventually wants to stock fresh vegetables, meat, bread (the shop is located in the former home of Transilvania Bakery) and cheese. “Food prices in this country are ridiculous,” he says. “The gouging stops here; a bag full with great quality food should not cost $80.”—C. Rule
Mike Hallatt asked us not to give readers the exact address of Transilvania Trading because he’d like people to happen upon the shop on their own, but we can tell you it’s located at the far end of West Broadway Street and open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Photos: Trader Joe’s, Transilvania Trading