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By Katherine Baker
If you aren’t a fan of Trader Joe’s, chances are you’ve never been to one. In which case, we send you a big hug and hope you make your way into one soon. If you’re like the rest of the world, Trader Joe’s likely has a soft spot in your heart and your grocery shopping experience often ends up being the highlight of your day.
What’s not to love? Specialty foods you can’t get anywhere else, cool jams and chill vibes, unbeatable bargains ($0.19 a banana!? it’s love!), and a constant steam of something new and intriguing to try.
But even self-proclaimed Trader Joe’s experts have a thing or two to learn about their favorite grocery store, and these facts are sure to only increase their undying adoration of the tiki-clad establishment. Sit back, grab a jar of cookie butter, and prepare to be amazed…
1. All Trader Joe’s products are made from non-GMO foods, and contain no high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, artificial colors or flavors.
And none of their dairy products contain rBHT, either. Because Trader Joe’s cares about you.
MORE: GMOs for Dummies
2. The first Trader Joe’s opened by a man named Joe in 1967 in Pasadena, CA.
The original store is still there. Joe Coulombe himself wanted to bring goods from other places to the US.
3. If you don’t like something, you can return it.
Store policy. If it wasn’t to your liking, bring it back for a full refund, no questions asked (minus alcohol, there’s a no return policy on that).
4. If you want to try something before you buy it, you can do that too.
Just ask a crew member and they will open one for you to try so you can decide if you like something or not before buying it (excluding alcohol, so don’t try this with your Two Buck Chuck). Be warned that more often than not you’ll like it.
5. Trader Joe’s donates leftover food to food banks, pantries, and/or soup kitchens.
It’s called the Trader Joe’s Donation Program, and in 2014 they donated over $295 million worth of food products. They also donate flowers to nursing homes and hospitals. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
6. Those bells have meaning.
It’s an paging system among employees to replace an obnoxious PA system. One bell brings more employees to register if it’s getting busy, two bells calls another employee over to help with a question or grabbing a fresh item, three bells calls over a manager, which at Trader Joe’s, is called a Mate.
7. Trader Joe’s doesn’t do social media.
They don’t need to. Word of mouth floats the boat for them. The Fearless Flyer newsletter is their main source of advertising.
8. They actually do have products from all over the world.
Just look at some of the products. Many are from Thailand, France, Italy - you name it.
9. Every store has a plastic lobster hiding in it somewhere.
Good luck finding it.
10. The store is not only a dreamland playground for adults, but for kids too.
Most stores have mini-carts for kids. And many have a stuffed animal that moves around the store for kids to find. Once they’ve spotted the creature, they tell the cashier where they saw him/her, and the wee ones get stickers or suckers as a reward. Yay happy children!
11. They make Cookie Butter.
Okay, you probably knew this, but we thought we’d mention it because it’s the most blessed gift to mankind.
Photos courtesy of Katherine Baker, answers.com, traderjoes.com, Delissa Handoko,Sean Koetting, and Becky Hughes.
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