Shopping Tips, Fun Facts and Recommendations for Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s is a specialty retail grocery store that I constantly find new and unique foods, mostly healthy. If you’re lucky to have a TJ’s in your neck of the woods, it’s a fun place to shop. I’ve been to the store in four different states: California, Michigan, Illinois, and New York. Our Trader Joe’s in Syracuse, NY is relatively new.

As I was browsing online, I came across a few fun facts about Trader Joe’s that I’d like to share (along with a few shopping tips and recommendations) to help you better understand the background, mission, and best way to utilize the chain.

Shopping Tips

Money-back guarantee.

Let’s say you buy that pickle-flavored popcorn from Trader Joe’s…and you don’t like it. You can return it for a full refund. No questions asked, they say. That’s a really good policy, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hemmed and hawed over buying something, only to walk away saying I wasn’t going to waste my money.

Get really good deals on alcohol.

Depending on where you live, the selection of alcoholic beverages sold at Trader Joe’s varies. In New York, we get beer and hard cider – one of my favorites (Henry Hotspur’s Hard Pressed for Cider) costs just $2.99. In Illinois, they have hard liquor in addition to the above drinks.

However, one of my favorite things to get is found at the Trader Joe’s in Chicago – their incredibly fruity, affordable, sparkling $5 bottles of:

  • Secco Peach Bellini
  • Secco Mango Mangocini
  • Secco Strawberry & Raspberry Rossini
  • Secco Cranberry (usually only available around the holidays)

My other half prefers the Almond Creek Vineyards Almond flavored sparkling wine ($6). That’s pretty good too (stronger in taste), so I think you really have to be in the mood for it.

If you want to stock up on good-tasting alcoholic beverages (especially for parties and other get-togethers) without breaking the bank, this is an excellent place to visit.

Sample almost anything on the spot.

There’s a little station in every store (situated next to the free mini cups of coffee), where you can sample some of the latest and greatest Trader Joe’s products. Our family has purchased a handful of things after sampling from this station – from the Cookie Butter Cheesecake to their Steak & Ale Pies.

But what I recently read is that if you want to sample anything in the store (within reason), just ask a store employee.

Fun Facts

No-waste policy.

I’ve always wondered why there aren’t marked-down goods dotting the shelves or a clearance rack at Trader Joe’s, and now I know. One reason is that the prices are initially so low as they are, they see no need to offer coupons or special discounts. Another reason is that they already have a plan for what’s going to happen to the food items they don’t sell. Products nearing their expiration date are gathered up and donated to a local food bank. They don’t throw anything out, which makes me love this store even more.

That shiny bell isn’t just for looks.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t have a PA system, so you won’t hear ‘cleanup on aisle 9’ blaring from above. Instead, they use a bell to communicate with employees (I always wondered what that thing was for). One bell ring means another register needs to be opened. Two bell rings mean that someone has a question at checkout. And, three bell rings summons a manager or its equivalent.

Every Trader Joe’s store location has an on-staff artist.

How cool is this???!!! I’ve always thought that the artwork on their chalkboard murals has been incredibly eye-catching with a lot of thought put into it. That must be one pretty awesome job, if you ask me.

Hidden fun.

The next time you’re in a Trader Joe’s, see if you can find the hidden plastic lobster that’s supposedly in every store. Out of all the different Trader Joe’s I’ve been to, I’ve ye to come across the crustacean…but then again, I was never looking for it…until now.

Trader Joe’s Recommendations

And, if you’re looking for something to try out, I recommend the following:

  • Trader Joe’s Chocolate Brooklyn Babka
  • Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Bar with Almonds
  • Trader Joe’s Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Fruit Wrap (especially the Apple-Banana flavor)
  • Trader Joe’s Fruit, Chia & Flax Bar – Strawberry
  • Pre-Packaged UNSWEETENED Dried Cherries
  • Trader Joe’s Jalapeno Cheddar Pub Cheese
  • Trader Joe’s Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax & Chia Seeds
  • Trader Joe`s Milk Chocolate Smashing S’mores with Graham and Marshmallow

So, What’s Your Favorite Thing to Buy at Trader Joe’s?

18 thoughts on “Shopping Tips, Fun Facts and Recommendations for Trader Joe’s”

  1. GiGi Eats says:

    I had NO IDEA they did a money-back guarantee!! Ha! GOOD TO KNOW – I really need to shop at TJ’s MORE!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…“Can Ya”… Keep Up With Our Kenya Safari? Part One Of Our TripMy Profile

  2. Heather says:

    These all look like amazing options that I, surprisingly, haven’t tried yet. Sounds like a Trader Joe’s visit is in my near future (TOMORROW!). An artist on staff is AWESOME and something I didn’t know was there.
    Heather recently posted…Disney on Ice Follow Your Heart | Phoenix Discount CodeMy Profile

  3. Jean says:

    I’ve never heard of Trader Joe’s, but it sounds like such a great store! I particularly like the idea of try before you buy 🙂
    Jean recently posted…My SheIn WishlistMy Profile

  4. Angela Cardamone says:

    These are all such great tips! I love Trader Joe’s, but don’t get there enough!!

  5. Aryn Forman says:

    Ah, I always wondered about that bell. I used to buy wine there all the time in college 🙂

  6. we don’t have a trader joe’s close to us but I have heard great things about this store
    kimberly lewis recently posted…Hello, New Year Challenge: Get OrganizedMy Profile

  7. Gemille Sleweon says:

    I recently started shopping at Trader Joe’s. They aren’t as expensive as I thought however there are some items know I can get cheaper from other stores. I’m going to stat going more regularly. Thanks for sharing!

  8. We just got a Trader Joes and I can’t wait to check it out. They look amazing. I like healthy food that is priced nicely.

  9. OMG, I love the Trader Joe’s near my house, but don’t go often enough…I think the idea of samples has convinced me, though! Thanks for sharing!
    Maria Katsulos recently posted…My 18 Goals for 2018 Using My PRINTABLE!My Profile

  10. I shop at Trader Joe’s minimum of once a week. I did know about the bells and their money back guarantee. I have to take your list becaue I havent tried any of the items. I am big fan of their crackers, chips and pizza.

    Happy shopping

  11. Sadly we don’t have Trader Joe’s in Canada so would love to try all of it!
    I had no idea what the bell was for but will look for it next time I visit one. Love the idea of your Smashing S’mores – they look amazing!

  12. Oh, I SO wish we had a Trader Joe’s here in Hawaii! We have a Whole Foods, but it just isn’t the same as Joes!

  13. Kathleen says:

    Gosh, we have a lot of favorites at Trader Joe’s on top of the fun we get from sampling things at the sampling station. I didn’t know they have an artist on-site. That’s crazy. Even their newsletter is nicely made. My girls love banging that shiny bell though just coz it’s so shiny and tempting. LOL. I think I need to visit next week and get some popcorn and pomegranate.

  14. Alysia Bear says:

    Awh man, now I’m SO sad we don’t have Trader Joe’s here in Canada lol
    I love those chalk boards and the fact you can sample so much! We have Costco, where there are samples handed our regularly, and we’ve got Whole Foods- a pretty large chain with a lot of the same feel as what I’m seeing here. Except they’re ridiculously overpriced. FML.

  15. Adrienne says:

    I seriously never go to Trader Joes because it can be so overwhelming, so this is a helpful post! I’ve heard so many good things about the products that they offer. I’m going to check out some of the products you’ve recommended. You should do a monthly Trader Joe’s post to tell us what you’ve bought! That would be so helpful to me the newbie customer. lol

  16. lisalisa says:

    My sisters are always talking about Trader Joe’s! All of them always talk about the great deals they get and how they enjoy being able to sample anything. We have one nearby and I have yet to visit even after hearing my sisters talk about them. I guess I need to take a trip to our Trader Joe’s so I can see how great this place is! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Mara Zota says:

    Unfortunately I don‘t have a Trader Joe‘s in my country. But it was fun to read what they can offer😊

  18. Clara says:

    We have a Trader Joe’s but it’s not convenient for me. I may have to start shopping there after reading this. It looks like they have some really good deals.
    Clara recently posted…Balance With Herbs ReviewMy Profile

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