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.
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.
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.
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