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Two Things You Don’t Know About Trader Joe’s

October 4, 2018

It took me years to fall in love with Trader Joe’s. Then when I moved to upstate New York, I went years without one. Finally, Trader Joe’s opened a store in Albany and my life improved immeasurably. All of my favorite staples returned.

What was fascinating was watching the locals explore this strange new store. There are still people who don’t understand what all the fuss is about. And that’s okay. The place is always crowded, and it never pretends to be for everyone.

However, I’m constantly amazed that even regular shoppers to the Trader don’t know two of their time tested policies which make TJs such a delight.

1. You can return anything for any reason

The hassle free return policy is no joke. Trader Joe’s wants you to be happy, and they stand behind everything. I’ve got a box of Trader Joe’s organic multigrain O’s breakfast cereal. It’s going back.

Why? Nobody in my family will eat it. We’ve all tried.

As I’ve been trying to find a replacement for Cheerio’s after the whole glyphosate thing, I’ve been looking towards products made with organic oats. And this cereal was worth a try. But it’s too crunchy for my son, to assertively flavored for my daughter, and far too sweet for me or the missus.

So I’m going to bring it back, and apply the refund to my next purchase at the store. I’ve done this before, and I was amazed at how quick and easy it was to make a return.

2. You can sample anything in the store

My kids love the sample station at Trader Joe’s, as it allows them to try a new juice on almost every trip. Plus there are sometimes fun bites to sample. The holidays are great, because that’s when the spiral sliced honey honey ham comes out. Although other times the sample is something like broccoli slaw. Blech.

However, if there is anything on the Trader’s Joe’s shelf you’re curious about, a team member will gladly open one up and give you a sample! Curious how an olive oil tastes? Just ask. Want to see if black bean tortilla chips are worth eating? You can evaluate them on the spot.

Or, if you’re not comfortable with that, just buy the bag, bring them home, and if you don’t like it, see thing #1 above.

On one trip to Trader Joe’s, I was with my daughter and we were talking with the checkout clerk. It was an off time of day, and the store wasn’t that busy. Anyhow, as we were paying for our groceries, it came up that Little Miss Fussy had never tried cookie butter.

The clerk was shocked.

He excused himself for a moment, and came back with a jar of cookie butter and a couple of spoons. We got to sample this beloved treat right then and there.

Fortunately, she wasn’t so into it. But there was never any pressure to buy the product. The remaining open product can be moved over to the sampling station or given to the staff for their own internal training purposes.

When combined, these two policies are truly incredible, because they encourage the store’s customers to branch out and try new things; to be adventurous, without concern for any of the typical risks of doing so. And it’s refreshing to see a brand fully standing behind its products.

Are you going to love everything? Probably not. I know that I don’t. But when you find a new favorite from Trader Joe’s, you’re hooked. Or at least I am. Because the things that I love, I love. And even if I can find products I love as much elsewhere, they are typically much more expensive.

That yuzu hot sauce they are selling now is just fantastic.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Trusted Commenter permalink
    October 4, 2018 10:47 am

    I’d eat the Cheerios, if they taste better. They’re cheaper and you get the glyphosate either way.

  2. mrrafe permalink
    October 4, 2018 10:48 am

    Forgot to include the link, sorry.

    • October 4, 2018 11:02 am

      Hey. Thanks for the reminder. I meant to put in the link to my own glyphosate story. Now it’s embedded in the post above. But for convenience sake, you can find it here:

      My bottom line is that yes, I know there is glyphosate residue found on organic oats. But for me, it’s not about the residue. It’s about supporting producers who shun the practice, and voting for fewer agricultural inputs with my wallet.

  3. Ryan H permalink
    October 4, 2018 6:54 pm

    I wonder what happens to the open containers. Maybe the employee gets to pocket it?

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