15 Secrets of Good Shopping at Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's chain of stores has a lot of fans because of low prices and unique products. In addition, buyers are attracted by the casual style of the store, whose employees often wear Hawaiian shirts, and the sea inhabitants are decorated with plastic.
Trader Joe's stores are smaller than regular supermarkets, with slightly less 4000 products on the shelves compared to 50 000, which are in stock at a standard supermarket. Nevertheless, in Trader Joe's you can easily find the products necessary for everyday life, and if you know a few secrets, shopping there becomes a real pleasure, writes Kiplinger.
You can buy a banana for 19 cents
Buying products in bulk can make financial sense if you are sure that you eat everything before it goes bad. But if you have to throw away the remnants of the purchased products, because they have deteriorated, then wholesale purchases do not make sense. That is why some buyers avoid purchasing large quantities of fruits and vegetables, even if the unit price for bulk purchases is lower.
Like most stores, Trader Joe's used to sell bananas in pounds only. The smallest package you could buy contained four or five bananas. One day, while visiting Sun City (California), Trader Joe's CEO, Dan Bane, saw an elderly client examine a package of bananas and put it back on the shelf. When the CEO asked why she didn't buy bananas, she replied: "I can not live to see the fourth banana." The next day, Trader Joe's started selling bananas individually by 19 cents per fruit.
Aldi and Trader Joe's are part of the same network.
Trader Joe's network was founded in 1967 year in Pasadena, California, by entrepreneur Joe Columbus. It was acquired in 1979 by the German company Aldi Nord, which also manages Aldi grocery stores in Europe. Aldi Sud, a sister company of Aldi Nord, operates Aldi stores in the United States.
Despite corporate communications, these two networks have different marketing strategies. Aldi is price-oriented and outperforms competitors by selling cheaper versions of the most popular products. Trader Joe's also strives for accessibility, but his driving force is uniqueness. It focuses on its own product line in unusual flavor combinations that you will not find anywhere else.
There are no sales or coupons in chain stores
Most supermarket chains sell individual items each week. But Trader Joe's offers the lowest price he can afford from the very beginning, so the network does not carry out sales. For the same reason, these stores have no special offers or coupons.
To test this claim, reporters compared the price of Speculoos Cookie Butter, one of Trader Joe's most popular products, to a similar cookie spread found at Whole Foods. Trader Joe's sold it for $ 3,69 for a 14-ounce can, and at Whole Foods, the same bottle of Dream Spread Cookie Butter costs $ 6,29 - about 40% more expensive.
80% of the goods on the Trader Joe's shelves are store brand products
In 1972, Trader Joe's introduced its first product under its own brand, it was granola. Today, Alison Mochizuki, director of public relations for the company, notes that 80% of the products that Trader Joe's sells make up the store's own brand names. These include products from Trader Joe's, Trader Jose's and Trader Ming's brands.
Prices are not always the lowest
To find out whether Trader Joe's offers lower prices than other stores, journalists visited one of the stores in Washington, DC, where they made several purchases to further compare prices. The cost of essential goods such as eggs and milk was analyzed, their prices were compared with similar products available at Whole Foods and Aldi.
A half gallon of skimmed milk in Aldi cost 1,25 dollars, while a similar product cost Trader Joe's 1,79 dollars. At Whole Foods, one dozen large brown eggs cost 4,19 dollars. The same box with eggs of the same size was more expensive on Trader Joe's 30 cents.
Products on store shelves are constantly changing.
If you have become attached to a product in Trader Joe's, keep in mind that after a while the network may stop selling it. Petits Palmiers, a puff pastry cookie that has been on Trader Joe's shelves since 2003, was discontinued in 2015 due to declining sales. Many other products of the chain had a similar fate.
Trader Joe's explains this by the fact that the warehouse space of stores is limited, and new products are introduced every week, so products that are not popular with customers simply occupy a place that is so small in stores. In addition to poor sales, a product can be discontinued if it is seasonal or the cost of its production increases significantly.
You can try any product before you buy.
If you see something that interests you, but are not quite sure that you will like it, Trader Joe's allows buyers to try the product they like for free. Just ask the employee to open the package and give you the opportunity to try the product before you buy it, and if you do not like it, then you are not obliged to buy it.
Trader Joe's also has a simple return policy. If you bought something, tried it at home and decided that you do not like it, just take what you have not eaten and take it back to the store. There, you are fully compensated for what you have spent on this product.
Payment may take some time.
You may have to spend more time shopping in Trader Joe's than in a regular supermarket. Depending on when you go shopping, you may be faced with a particularly long wait at the checkout.
Ringing the bell means that help is on the way
Unlike most supermarkets that use intercoms to call for help, Trader Joe's has a bell ringing system located near the cashier to signal the need for help to employees.
One bell call informs employees about the need to open another cash desk; Two calls mean that there are additional questions that need to be answered at the box office. Three calls signal the need for the help of a manager.
Stores donate unsold food to local charities
Trader Joe's donates products that are safe to use but not marketable to local charities. Each store has a donation coordinator who is responsible for working with local food banks and canteens to organize daily donations. In 2018, the network said it had donated 355 millions of dollars to charity across the country.
All products pass through the tasting panel.
Trader Joe's is serious about product quality. So seriously, that every product that is sold in a store goes through the tasting panel before it hits the shelves. If the panel does not like it, the product will not be available.
Waiver of plastic and foam packaging
In 2019, Trader Joe's began replacing plastic and foam packaging with renewable and herbal alternatives. For example, Trader Joe's now uses a compostable tray instead of a foam one for fruits and vegetables.
In addition, in 2019, the network plans to remove one million pounds of plastic from its stores. This will include plastic bags at the box office. Shops will only offer paper bags, or shoppers can bring their own reusable bags.
First to know about new products
Trader Joe's regularly releases new products, but many customers find out about them when they accidentally see them on the shelves. Fortunately, there is a way to learn about new products that will appear on store shelves earlier.
Buyers can go to the "What's new»On Trader Joe's website to find out about the latest releases of new products. The page is updated several times a week. Each post lists the ingredients of the new product, explains how it hit the store shelves and where you can find it.
Wide selection of vegan, kosher and gluten free products
If you have food allergies or a strict diet, shopping at a traditional grocery store can be problematic. Often times, you have to make multiple trips to multiple stores to find everything on your shopping list. Trader Joe's aims to make this weekly job easier for shoppers with special dietary needs, which is why the chain offers a wide selection of kosher, vegan and gluten-free products. All of them are clearly marked on price tags and labels.
No Trader Joe's near your house? - Ask to be opened next to you
Customers interested in bringing a store to their area can visit the page. Request a TJ's in My City on the web site of the network and fill out a short questionnaire.
Trader Joe's cannot guarantee that he will open a store in each requested city, but if consumer demand is high enough, a new outlet will be opened. In 2018, the network opened 12 new stores in regions such as New York, Washington, DC, and Santa Rosa, California.
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