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No more road trips to score her Trader Joe's fix

My heart skipped a beat on my way to work Friday. In a good way, for a change.

It's been a rough couple weeks. Lots of stress at work. Lots of loss at home. But just as I was entering my final approach to the Mail Tribune, here was something to lift my mood.

The promise of good things to come was sitting smack dab in the middle of an empty lot. The brand new sign had a lot of writing on it. But my eyes locked only on two little words: Trader Joe's.

You wouldn't tease a fanatical TJ gal, would ya? That could get dangerous. Really? You're serious?

I nearly rear-ended the car in front of me as I rubbernecked the sign and tried to absorb the news. Yep. There it was. Plain as day. It says my favorite foodie store is finally coming to Medford.

Halle-freakin'-lujah! FINALLY!

Don't take my exuberance wrong, I love a lot of local noshible stores and specialty shops around here. I have favorite places to hunt and peck when feeling peckish in most every town in the Rogue Valley. And I adore the myriad growers markets and my farmer friends.

But I grew up in the birthplace of Trader Joe's. Pasadena is were we were both hatched. Me in '57. Them in '58.

Ah, yes. Childhood and Trader Joe's. I remember when they were still linked to the old Pronto Markets. Their first landmark store had a butcher shop and big barrels of nuts. In the late '60s, it sold every kind of California wine, and pantyhose. They quit with the pantyhose in the late '70s. I even met William Christopher (Father Mulcahy from M.A.S.H.) in that store one fine day.

I grew up reading three "adult" things: Erma Bombeck's delightful life musings, Jim Murray's insightful sports columns, and Trader Joe's "Fearless Flyer."

(Correction: The spelling of Erma Bombeck's name has been corrected in this story.)

The Flyer's inimitable pen-and-ink drawings. Its quirky comments. Loved it. Loved everything about it. The fact that its factoids centered around delicious and affordable goodies made it even more fun to read to this budding foodie.

I have recently been advised that "food is not a hobby." The Man may have a point. But whenever I trek north, I always stop in Eugene for a dose of yummy TJ treats. Peanut-butter stuffed pretzels for the parrots, TJ Cheetos and chocolate chip cookies for me, and flash-frozen fishy goodness from the seven seas for Squiggy. And then there's TJ's chocolate! Everything under the sun seems to be dipped in decadent goodness! Yum! I also adore the fact that don't have to worry about GMO or all sorts of other Frankenfood issues when shopping at Trader Joe's.

However, there is one little problem. Invariably, once I'm in the Eugene store, I start with the whining and begging.

I've tried to control it. But I simply can't help myself. I see those tacky Hawaiian shirts, I hear the clanging of that noisy ship's bell, and it all seems to stimulate some kind of cellular memory. I want TJ in my life — handy, nearby and forever, and ever, and ever. Dear Lord, somebody stop her ...

"When? When? When are you coming to Southern Oregon?" I plead, batting the big browns.

I know it's not pretty. I can tell by the alarmed faces of the staff. And sometimes by their frantic calls. "Security!!"

But I also know I'm not alone in my pleadings. I've seen the Facebook pages dedicated to bringing one of these traders of culinary seas to our parts. And I'm sure there have been countless letters written from Southern Oregon wannabe-shoppers to TJ headquarters in Monrovia, Calif.

I'm just happy to see the fruits of their labors are about to bring me a steady supply of goodies. And, while I have no idea of the actual timeline, I can only hope they're planning on building this sucker fast. The holidays are on the way. And I'm gonna need my pfefferneuse cookies.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.