The 5 Worst Trader Joe’s Parking Lots in LA

I love Trader Joe’s for their prices, for their Joe-Joe’s, for their simmering sauces.  But, all the mushy love I have for Trader Joe’s is nearly outweighed by how much I hate it for having absolutely awful parking lots.  If you don’t live near one of their new and improved stores – i.e., the ones at Hollywood and Vine or Olympic and Barrington – then you’re stuck with an archaic lot that is a one-way traffic jam from hell.  This is my list of the 5 Worst Trader Joe’s Parking Lots in LA.

5.  Huntington and Rosemead

The Trader Joe’s on Huntington and Rosemead in the good ol’ San Gabriel Valley shares space with a Petco next door.  Often, when Trader Joe’s plays nice and shares its parking lot space with others, the lot actually is not half bad (see, e.g., the parking lot at Santa Monica Blvd. and Martel in WeHo).  Not so here.  As you can see, the parking lot employs the Loop method.  There are two entrances; whether you go with the Blues or the Reds, you’re going to be stuck in a one-way jam somewhere.

4.  Santa Monica

Like its brother across town, the Trader Joe’s in Santa Monica also utilizes the Loop method, and also fails spectacularly.  There are two entrances: one on Pico, and the other at 33nd (the other end of the loop).  Cars inevitably converge, and it’s a bloody fight on who gets to continue through the Loop.  Smarter drivers forgo the Loop entirely and opt for one of the spots in front of the entrance, or look for a spot behind the store – but good luck getting there.  Those entering on Pico theoretically have a Stop sign to obey, but who listens to red octagons in a parking lot?  No one, apparently.

3.  Silver Lake

I think of this lot as one where Trader God threw up all the available parking spots into the air and let them fall, along with Traitor Satan, into the pits of Hell.  The result: spots scattered awkwardly in a half-Loop around the perimeter of the store.  Cars entering or exiting the lot from either entrance on Hyperion sidle uneasily alongside each other, angling for a spot.   I’ll let you in on a secret though: if you drive on Hyperion, past this insanity, past the Cheese Store, there is an overflow lot.  Park there and save yourself an enormous hassle.

2.  La Brea & 3rd

What is worse than a tiny parking  lot designed for a large volume of suburban shoppers jonesing for some two buck  Chuck?  A tiny parking lot designed for a large volume of shoppers jonesing for  some two buck Chuck located right off of one of the busiest  intersections of the city.  For some reason, Trader Joe’s thought this little plot of land was capable of handling not one, but two, ill-fated Loops.  If  you look carefully at the pic below, you can make out the  arrows painted in the lot, which, I guess, are supposed to tell you  where to go.  In practice, the arrows make no sense:  they don’t  guide you to safety any more than the footsteps do at Ikea.

1.  Arroyo Parkway
This is the OG TJ’s, circa 1967.  The template of its future stores, including, apparently, its horrible parking.  The lot is a labyrinth and the parking slots are tiny beyond tiny  (as my friend pointed out, “only a clown car” could squeeze in the spots).  Overall, the lot is ill-equipped to handle the density of traffic and the vanity of Los Angeles (gigantormous Lexus SUVs hogging 2+ spaces, I am looking at you).  Yes, I would like to know how Trader Joe’s came up with the Loop and Other Urban Parking Lot Nightmares, but what I really want to know is: How did the people in the yellow box get in and out of their cars?

That’s my list.  What’d I miss?

127 thoughts on “The 5 Worst Trader Joe’s Parking Lots in LA”

  1. I have often had to endure the hell of parking at the Santa Monica location and it is not to be believed. But I am happy to report that 45 minutes to the north is the TJ of Santa Clarita and it possibly has the best parking lot then any TJ’s I have ever been to. Not only is it in a HUGE shopping center but it is practically the size of a super market and takes up the space of what used to be a large furniture store.

  2. I grew up near the Huntington and Rosemead and remember before there was a TJs in that shopping center. That parking lot was more than big enough for all the businesses that were there until they put in the TJs. We could all see the handwriting on the wall – there goes the parking lot. Sure enough, TJs became the death of going there. Several of the small businesses there actually retired and closed because of it. So it’s not always badly designed parking lots but the sheer volume TJs creates. If you don’t like the parking lot that much, don’t shop there. Or, quite your whining.

    1. I am pretty sure that store went in when their other store on Rosemead south of Colorado burned down when the gun store next to it blew up one night.

      That lot sucked, too. But at least it was simple and small.

  3. For all those complaining about Studio City, it’s bad, but it’s really not that bad. The trick is to not park near the store–park over on the side near Laurel Canyon, by the Pick Up Stix.

    Culver City is bad in that, if all the spaces are filled on the first floor, it’s impossible to get up to the second floor once you’ve entered the structure.

    I will NEVER EVER go to La Brea and Third. It used to be the most convenient location on my way home, until they opened the Vine St location just down the street from my work. But anyway, LB/3rd is the worst because, first, the main parking lot is set up so terribly, BUT even though they have an overflow lot across the alley, it CLOSES at 7pm! Prime shopping time! So they cut off half of their parking space just when it’s getting busy. The store itself is not much better–you can barely fit on cart down the aisles, and I am convinced that that is the location where everyone who’s never been to a grocery store goes. Dumb hipsters wander the aisles slowly with an empty cart, gazing at all the options. I have things to buy and dinner to make, people, just pick a goddamn can of soup.

    The Vine location is GREAT except–getting through the driveway between levels in the parking structure is frightening. I always catch my back wheel on the curb because the lanes are so narrow going around that curve, and there are already tons of scrapes on the wall where people have come up against it.

  4. In Sherman Oaks at Hazeltine/Woodman, my car got hit ($2600 damage and they still never matched the lexus 3 stage paint) and no one would help me even though it was on camera by Chase.

    The problem is still on-going and you should always park on the street at that location!

  5. Arroyo Pkwy was my first store in 1980 when they had Galley Meats in the back of the store. Last time I was there was maybe 5 years ago.

    SP is my store now. Bad lot almost always busy. Freaky thing is one moment there are no spaces and 3 minutes later there are lots of spaces.

    ‘Love’ driving in from the side street when the sun is setting. You are legally blind.

    Also – ‘love’ heading south on Grand Avenue where you cross Mission and you drive directly into the parking lot. Downside – as you sit there waiting for the light to change, you spot you were eyeballing gets taken.

    At the worst, I have driven round and round through that lot 6 or 7 times looking for a ‘good’ space or any space…EXCEPT the one next to the cart rack near the main entrance. Nightmare.

    And I NEVER park in the ‘alcove’ adjoining the ‘service’ entrance. Just too dicey when you are trying to get out.

    A world of its own – Trader Joe’s.

  6. Used to live near the original T J’s on Arroyo Parkway. Bad parking, but the one in la Crescenta makes it look spacious. Lot about half the size and shares with pizza hut, a spa, a laundry mat and a couple other businesses. I often drive to la Canada to avoid parking there.

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