Home Business & Commerce Unique Grocery Store: Trader Joe’s, Part 3

Unique Grocery Store: Trader Joe’s, Part 3

By Ruth Storkel

Since coming to Burien over 25 years ago, Trader Joe’s has become a favorite shopping stop for “Burienites” and people in the surrounding communities. When I’ve been there, it is always overflowing with customers! I asked some of my friends what they liked about shopping there. “It’s easy to get in and out of,” one said (it’s always well-staffed, so they can quickly move customers through the lines.) “Being a small store makes it more convenient.” Others said they liked the friendliness of the staff, who are willing to assist and answer questions. Some people liked the reasonable prices for nuts, cereals, dried fruit, etc.

This takes us to the 19-cent banana story (did you hear that one?) How did they come up with selling a banana for 19 cents? Grocery stores usually sell bananas by the pound (which was at one time true of TJ’s also.) This meant you would usually buy 4-5 bananas. One day CEO Dan Bane was touring a store and noticed an elderly customer picking out a bag of bananas, but then reluctantly putting it back. Bane asked her why she didn’t buy it. “Sonny, I may not live to eat that fourth banana!” she said. The next day, Trader Joe’s started selling bananas for 19 cents apiece!

Trader Joe’s cares about what their customers and employees think and has various ways of getting feedback. (This year, it polled over 18,000 customers about their favorite products and announced them on its Jan.23 podcast.) 

The Trader Joe’s Company also has some excellent policies that make its store highly “customer friendly.”

Did you know?

8 out of 10 items are the Trader Joe’s store brand, which helps keep the cost low (by buying directly from the suppliers whenever possible.)

All store-branded foods and drinks are free of artificial flavors, preservatives, synthetic coloring, and GMO ingredients.

TJ’s company believes in giving back to the community and donates 100% of products that goes unsold (and are still safe to eat). It has donated $345 million worth of products to charities.

The company guarantees its products. Their return policy is simple: if you don’t like it for any reason, you can return it and get a full refund.

There is an in-store sampling station that allows the tasting of new products. 

Trader Joe’s produces entertaining podcasts. The March 13 one is episode 62 and tells about new products (such as blueberry and lemon hand pies and Uganda Rwenzoris Mtns.-of- the-Moon small lot coffee.) Take a look at their website, where you’ll learn about the newest products and find marvelous gourmet recipes, too: http://www.traderjoes.com

There are around 400 different wines available to purchase.

Trader Joe’s has a robust list of kosher, vegan and gluten-free products.

Trader Joe’s has an entertaining newsletter, “Fearless Flyer”: you can subscribe to it at: ww.traderjoes.com/subscribe.

And now for some Trader Joe’s Trivia Questions:

  1. What was their first private-label product?
  2. Where was their first store?
  3. How many Trader Joe’s stores are there in our country?
  4. What is the price of one greeting card at TJ’s?
  5. What candy was inducted into their 2023 “Hall of Fame”?
  6. What frozen entree was inducted into the “Hall of Fame” in 2023?
  7. Trader Joe’s, for a time, was the largest US importer of what type of cheese?
  8. What is the manager of each store called?

                (see answers at the bottom of page)

For the past two Christmases, a generous young woman gave me a great gift…..a $75 Trader Joe’s gift card! (Away with all the gifts we receive that we can’t use!} This card was my favorite, best gift! Consider buying one when you need to purchase gifts. These can be given for birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, housewarmings, etc. The “receiver” will have many great options to choose from: wines, candles, confections, toiletries, imported cheeses, fresh fruit, gourmet foods, flowers, and much more! It is a shopping adventure they will enjoy and thank you for!

Trivia answers:

1. Granola 2. Pasadena, California 3. Over 360 stores

4. 99 cents 5. Dark Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cups

6. Mandarin Orange Chicken 7. Brie 8.The Captain

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