It's been a year since I was laid off from Trader Joe's. I sometimes miss working there, but not much. I still shop there, but when I go I see fewer and fewer of the people I worked with, as they move on to other employments. Looking back from a year, I now see that I would have had to leave anyway, since last March my mother fell and broke bones, which meant arranging extra care for her. And she would continue to deteriorate until her passing in October. I could not have spent the necessary time in Massachusetts and continued to work at Trader Joe's.
Over my years there I saved images of some of my best art and documented everything I did for the store. Among them was a selection of my best decorated price tags, called "templates." I loved making the miniature art, which left space for the writing just like a book cover. I tried to make a little picturesque scene with every one. Here are four of my favorites. "Kalamata Olives" celebrates Summer and the bounty of vegetables.
I made a lovely pastoral scene with a barn for the Granny Smith Apples. I never get tired of idealized pastoral landscapes. This one is not my handwriting. Trader Joe's loves the "bouncy kiddie" type of writing but I never did.
My tag for the "Stromboli" Italian sausage and dough treat includes a Mediterranean vista with the volcano Stromboli puffing ash in the distance.
This tag was done on the computer, with CorelDraw. The store authorities didn't like my doing Victorian-style designs on the computer, they would rather use only hand-drawn tags. But I think my editions of Victoriana looked great. They are still using hand-drawn and written tags even now.
Each tag was either drawn as a blank "template" in markers or on my computer, then reproduced by color copier on cardstock. Then we wrote on the copies, laminated them, and added the price with Sharpie or Lumo pens, which could be erased when the price changed. The rectangular tags like these ran about 6 inches by 2 inches and were mounted in clear plastic holders.
Over the years I must have made thousands of TJ price tags, most of them much simpler than these. I saved my decommissioned favorites in a couple of boxes, hoping perhaps that they would be used again, or saving them as examples of my best miniature art. But I have to move on. I selected the best of the best for saving, and the rest....well, they will sit in a landfill until some future archaeologist unearths them and wonders what an "organic Roma tomato" was.