It all started with a simple online manifesto, posted by a single Seattle gal. "So I am always reading stupid crap on [Craigslist] about people crushing on other people while SHOPPING AT TRADER JOE'S," wrote the 23-year-old woman, who herself shops at the grocery chain's Queen Anne location on Sunday mornings. "I must say that there are a lot of really cute, and laid-back-looking, nice-seeming guys there." The problem is, she wrote, "it's sometimes hard to tell who's attached and who's not."

The missive, posted on Craigslist, got a lot of attention. Like-minded single Trader Joe's aficionados contacted the woman, who set up an e-mail list to handle the response. In the month since she posted her rant, 50 people have joined the list, "traderjoeslove" (motto: "unite and flirt!"). The gal, who asked not to be named, started referring to herself as Trader Cupid.

Plenty of the folks who jumped on board were into the woman's proposal for lonely Trader Joe's aficionados: What if solo shoppers conspire to shop at the same time, turning an errand into a social mixer? "Trader Cupid" got dozens of replies from other single guys and gals who were into her idea to facilitate grocery store hookups. The solo shoppers figured they might find a soul mate among other urban dwellers devoted to the quirky store--with its pirate themed décor, and staffers who wear Hawaiian shirts--just as some people might find love with a like-minded person at church or a book club. "Not everyone shops at TJs," explained one single guy who shops at the new Madison Street Trader Joe's (or "TJ's" as the store's fans refer to it) for their organic goods. "Those that do have common interests, so naturally you assume the person shopping next to you is similar."

The new online community members had other suggestions for grocery-aisle matchmaking. Some suggested leaving tiny flyers with mysterious slogans like "share the TJ love," along with the list's e-mail address (traderjoeslove@yahoogroups.com), to bring more singles into the fold. Others posed a "code" to identify fellow singles, like "everyone [wear] a cheap fake lei," or carry a specific, but odd, grocery item. "Maybe we need a 'I'm single and approachable' bracelet. Or SOMETHING," wrote the woman, now moderating the email list. Then again, she wrote, "maybe now there are enough people tuned in to this that we'll figure it out just from the quizzical looks going around? I know I'll be a bit less oblivious when shopping from now on." So far, the singles haven't hammered out a sure-fire way to spot each other in the aisles. But there's still hope: Just this Monday, a 26-year-old guy named Sachin sent out an e-mail suggesting the TJ's singles cut to the chase and meet up in a bar.

amy@thestranger.com

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