20 Things You Didn't Know About Trader Joe's Slideshow

20 Things You Didn't Know About Trader Joe’s

There are dozens of supermarket brands out there, but none are quite like Trader Joe's. Just setting foot in one will tell you that you're someplace special: The walls are colorfully painted, the employees are wearing Hawaiian shirts, and most of the products don't resemble any that you've ever seen before. We tracked down 20 facts that we bet you didn't know about Trader Joe's, even if you're a regular shopper.

Compared to Regular Grocery Stores, They Stock a Shockingly Small Number of Products

The average supermarket carries up to a whopping 50,000 items. If the inventory at your local Trader Joe's seems a little more manageable than that at your local Stop & Shop, that's because the average TJ's only keeps about 4,000 products in stock. 

You Can Get Free Samples of Anything in the Store

Even though you'll never encounter a Trader Joe's that's not handing out free samples of some sort, if you want to try something specific, just ask an employee and they'll most likely open it up for you to have a taste right then and there. 

There’s No PA System at Any Store

"Those blustery PA systems just didn't feel right to us," the company says on their website, so they communicate via bells: One bell means it's time to open a new register, two bells means there's a question at checkout, and three bells calls over "a manager-type person."

Products Can Come and Go with No Warning

New products are introduced every week, and that means that if a product isn't selling well, it's going to be on the chopping block. Other reasons why a product might disappear is if it's a seasonal item or if the cost of producing the item increases to a point where it's no longer a good deal. To stay on top of what's coming and going, sign up to receive their Fearless Flyer.

If You Don’t Like Something, You Can Return It

If you buy a food item, try it, and don't like it, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked. 

80 to 90 Percent of Products Sold Are Store-Brand

This helps keep prices down, and also allows the company to have more control over the quality of their products. Pantry items like bread, butter, olive oil, peanut butter, condiments, and rice will be a lot less expensive here than at your local supermarket. 

Every Store Has a Hidden Toy and a Plastic Lobster

To keep the kiddies entertained while you do your shopping, send them on a hunt for a hidden toy or a plastic lobster. Every location has them hiding!

If There’s No Trader Joe’s Near You, You Can Request One

Just fill out this form; they read every submission and take the amount of local requests into consideration when mapping out new locations.

They Only Buy From Manufacturers or Growers, Not Distributors or Middlemen

If you're interested in being a vendor, you can fill out this form. Just know that their criteria for what makes it onto their shelves is incredibly strict!

The Private Label Products Are GMO Free and Contain No Artificial Flavors, Preservatives, Colors, or Trans Fats

They also contain no MSG and are "priced to sell" (that's why you never see any Trader Joe's coupons), and they've all gone through a tasting panel to make sure that there are no clunkers. 

Mandarin Orange Chicken Is the Most Popular Item

According to the most recent Customer Choice Awards, which surveys customers to ask what their favorite items are, this year's winner was the Mandarin Orange Chicken. Runners-up included cookie butter, mac and cheese, triple ginger snaps, and 72 percent dark chocolate.

You’ll Never Find a Coupon for It

Because the company works hard to guarantee the cheapest prices around, they don't offer any coupons, membership rewards, or anything like that.

Triple Ginger Snap Cookies Are the Top Seller

These ginger cookies have been the chain's best-selling item for years.

Their Employees Are Treated Really Well

Part-time employees can expect to earn $20 an hour (with full benefits!), and managers can earn up to $130,000 annually.

Every Location Has an Artist on Staff

That's why the murals are always locally-oriented and the artwork is always on-point.

The Fearless Flyer Is Invaluable

Even though it doesn't have any coupons in it, Trader Joe's newsletter/catalog/comic book, which you can find online or in print (you can pick it up at stores or have it mailed to you) details popular items, new additions, general notices to shoppers, and other important info. If you're a regular TJ's shopper, make sure you check it out!

They Host Occasional Contests

Make sure you keep tabs on the chain's events page; it occasionally hosts recipe competitions, as well as annual votes for the most popular items.

All of Its Food Waste Is Donated to Local Food Banks

If an item hasn't been purchased and is about to hit its expiration date, it'll be removed from shelves and donated to a local food bank instead of thrown out. In 2016, a whopping 341 million dollars' worth of food was donated to local organizations!

The Staff’s Shirts Each Have Different Meanings

Take a look at the team members next time you're at a TJ's, and you'll notice that different types of staffers were different shirts. If they're wearing a solid-colored shirt with a big hibiscus flower on the back, they're "crew members" who can help you with most questions, like tracking down an item. Managers are the ones wearing button-down Hawaiian shirts, and you'll only need to talk to them if there's a major issue.

You Can Be Rewarded for Bringing Your Own Bag

Trader Joe's is trying to cut down on the amount of paper and plastic bags they use, so they've incentivized customers with a weekly "bring your own bag" raffle: If you use reusable bags, you can fill out a form to add your name for a chance to win a $25 gift card.