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Hullabaloo


Monday, June 23, 2003

 
CheezeNip Bobo in Paradise

You just have to read this perfect post on Bobo Brooks's latest from SullyWatch. It hits so many fine points about the current political scene that I urge you to read the whole thing. (If the first link is bloggered go to the second.)

Bobo is one pundit who drives me particularly crazy. Yeah, yeah, I know he's more "reasonable" and less "shrill" than your average wing nut, but the reason he drives me crazy is that he writes about American culture as if he's from Mars. This bothers me because the Republicans are winning the Po-Mo political PR contest and it's only because the Democrats aren't even trying. This guy is typically clueless.

Recently, he wrote an op-ed in the NY Times using WalMart and Trader Joe's as symbols of American political philosophy.

Trader Joe's, as you may know, is the grocery store for people who wouldn't dream of buying free-range chicken broth from a company that didn't take a position against offshore oil drilling. Trader Joe's is so painfully socially conscious that it has to go through back flips just to find some snack food it can approve of. If you tried to smuggle a bag of Cheese Nips into the store, a half-dozen ethics alarms would probably go off. Instead the store stocks baked pea-pod chips and Veggie Booty with kale, for kids who come home from school screaming, ''Mom, I want a snack that will prevent colon-rectal cancer!''


Yes, this is terribly cute (especially coming from a guy whom you just know lives on moon pies and yoohoo) but as usual, he completely missed the point. Yes. Trader Joe's stocks health foods. But the most important thing that distinguishes Trader Joe's is the fact that it sells all of these items CHEAP, (just like the WalMart where Brooks buys his Velveeta and Wonder bread.) The difference is that Trader Joes has taken the capitalistic road of providing a small number of niche market goods at reasonable prices while Walmart has taken the road of selling a huge number of mass market goods at reasonable prices. But, essentially, these two successful enterprises are the same. They keep their overhead low, buy goods in large lots and pass on the price break to the customer.

Trader Joe's sprang up in Los Angeles, a place where there are many, many grocery stores that will sell you every partially hydrogenated, mass produced, empty calorie CheezeNip you could ever want. They made the decision to provide unusual goods at a reasonable price in a market glutted with predictable mass market goods. They should be ashamed of themselves, the socialist bastards.

And predictably, Brooks overlooks the single biggest item that Trader Joe's sells and one which brings in plenty of God-fearing, ESPN watching, GOP regular guys like himself: cheap booze. Trader Joe's is as much a discount liquor store as a grocery store and if Brooks is going to make a case that it's somehow an effete, liberal institution that is out of step with Real Muricans like him, then he needs to lay off the Spaghettios and krispy cremes for awhile and check out who actually shops there and for what.

He might just be interested to know that the largest group of people who shop at Trader Joe's for food aren't white wine swilling liberal brie and cheezers. But, they might be worried about chole-rectal cancer, to be sure. It's senior citizens. And, they shop there because the stores are in their neighborhood and the prices are low.



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