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For the first month of the pandemic, Trader Joe’s was the only place I went, and it was there I found a community. Anyone who has gone to the Trader Joe’s on Stadium Blvd. during the pandemic has experienced the lines that extend around the outlet mall to adhere to capacity limitations. This line was the location of many conversations with other Ann Arbor townies, sharing thoughts and comments about the pandemic and anything else of significance in this sedated time. 

Waiting in line, I learned about one woman who had taken the time during the pandemic to finally learn Italian — something she had been wanting to do for years but had never had the time to do. Another told me about how this was the first time her kids had all been back at home since leaving for college and that maybe there were a few positives in this unprecedented time. 

Stepping into Trader Joe’s, you’re greeted by an eclectic collection of food that acknowledges all different ages, cultures and dietary restrictions. If you’re looking for something savory, I’d recommend the rice mochi nugget bites. Something sweet? Try the vegan walnut-banana bread or their mint chocolate chip ice cream. 

The assortment of delicacies at Trader Joe’s becomes irrelevant once their customer service is brought into consideration. Even masked, the employees greet customers with contagious smiles and unparalleled enthusiasm. Conversations about your day are expected when checking out, as if it’s the beginning of a friendship. 

While Ann Arbor’s Trader Joes may be located in the worst parking lot of all time, the community is unmatched. I’m grateful for the food and the community Trader Joe’s has supplied me during the pandemic. 

Daily Staff Reporter Shannon Stocking can be reached at