Of all the grocery chains in the country, few have followings as cult-like as Trader Joe's. And for good reason: The supermarket's innovating selection means there's always an exciting new seasoning on their shelves and a new cauliflower dish in the freezer aisle. The organic produce is affordable enough that it won't clear your entire wallet in a single shopping trip. And the chipper, Hawaiian shirt-clad cashiers make you feel like a superstar, even if your plans for the evening only involve downing a whole box of Joe-Joes sandwich cookies by yourself. What's not to love?
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Over the last year of social distancing and living in PJs all day, though, Trader Joes' sole pitfall has come to light: It has no in-house grocery delivery service — and it's not planning to establish one anytime soon. Last April, amid the first surge of COVID-19 cases, TJ's vice president of marketing Matt Sloan took to the Trader Joe's Podcast (yes, the store even has a podcast) to settle the question of whether or not the supermarket would launch a delivery option in light of stay-at-home guidelines. His response wasn't promising for those hoping to avoid grocery stores.
"Creating an online shopping system for curbside pickup or the infrastructure for delivery, it's a massive undertaking," he said. "It's something that takes months or years to plan, build, and implement, and it requires tremendous resources. Well, at Trader Joe's, the reality is that over the last couple of decades we've invested those resources in our people rather than build an infrastructure that eliminates the need for people." All that's to say Trader Joes' focus is on putting money into its crew members, not into building self-checkout, curbside pickup, and delivery options, marketing director Tara Miller added in the podcast. So, yeh, the short answer is no.
Still, there are ways to hack the system and score Trader Joe's delivery if you're really desperate for some cauliflower gnocchi and cookie butter. TJ's isn't available on most third-party grocery delivery platforms, such as Postmates and Instacart, so instead, try these workarounds to get your favorite items dropped off on your doorstep. (Better yet, sign up for a plant-based meal service to ditch the grocery list entirely.)
Try Out Dumpling
To get all the TJ's cheese needed for your charcuterie board without having to leave your couch, Reddit users suggest Dumpling, a platform for personal shoppers who are considered small business owners. The app enables you and other hungry folks to compile a shopping list, connect with a local shopper who will hit up the grocery store — including Trader Joe's, among other chains — to grab it all for you, and have your haul hand-delivered. (You'll want to add these TJ's beauty products to your list, too.)
Unlike other grocery delivery apps, Dumpling personal shoppers set their own shopping and delivery fees, which is usually a percent of your grocery bill or a flat rate. You'll also have to cover the cost of your groceries, of course, tip (if you choose to add one), and — unless your shopper pays the fee themselves — a platform fee that's 5 percent of your grocery total. The final bill for your Trader Joe's Delivery may be steeper than going to get it all yourself, but considering all of these fees go directly back to your shopper — not some large corporation — it makes the price easier to stomach. (FYI, the app is available in all 50 states, but there might not be shoppers available in every zip code, so check it out before you meal plan.)
Turn to TaskRabbit
You might typically turn to apps such as TaskRabbit to find people who can expertly install a light fixture or build an IKEA dresser in record time, but the platform also offers grocery shopping and delivery. To snag a Trader Joe's delivery on TaskRabbit, select a Tasker (some will even call out Trader Joe's pick-up in their profiles), send them your list, and wait patiently for them to drop your goods off at your door. The Taskers are classified as independent contractors who set their own hourly rates, so your final bill will depend on their individual prices, the amount of time it takes to grab your groceries, and the food itself. (Related: The Best Staple Foods to Keep In Your Kitchen At All Times)
Hire Off of Craigslist
It's a bit tougher to have your Trader Joe's delivery needs satisfied if you live outside of the 53 cities TaskRabbit services, in an area without any Dumpling shoppers, or way out in the middle of nowhere without any means of getting to a TJ's by yourself. But if you're in dire need of a bottle of Two Buck Chuck, one Reddit user suggests scoring it by posting a listing on Craigslist. You might have to post your ad a few days ahead of time to find someone for the job, but considering how essential that wine and TJ's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are, it'll be well worth the wait.
Pay Your Friends
If all else fails, your best bet when it comes to scoring a Trader Joe's delivery might just be to talk your friends, family, neighbors, or that girl you see at yoga every Saturday into picking up your necessities for you. In exchange, you can offer to weed their flower beds, watch their dog for a weekend, or bring them along to Costco for some bulk buys the next time you go. You can even sweeten the deal a la this Reddit user, who offers friends who are already going shopping at Trader Joe's an extra $20 to grab their groceries while they're at it.
Order Through Amazon
You won't be able to stock up on Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings or Buffalo Style Chicken Dip by ordering through Amazon, but you will be able to pack your pantry to the brim. TJ's Chili Lime Seasoning Blend (Buy It, $6, amazon.com), Peanut Butter-Filled Pretzels (Buy It, $12, amazon.com), Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies (Buy It, $18, amazon.com), Plantain Chips (Buy It, $15, amazon.com), Triple Ginger Snaps (Buy It, $11, amazon.com), and more are all available through this Trader Joe's delivery option. The catch: The products aren't sold directly by Trader Joe's, but rather third parties that resell TJ's items. As a result, you might end up paying $7 for a bottle of the legendary Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, which only costs $1.99 at the store. But as the saying goes, you can't put a price on happiness, especially if it comes in the form of a salty, garlicky bagel topping.