No matter which day of the week you do your grocery shopping, it’s bound to be a tight squeeze down the aisles of Trader Joe’s locations across the country. Tuesday evening shoppers can experience just as much traffic as those who brave it on a Sunday afternoon—and not just because the grocery retailer has so many fans. If you hadn't noticed, Trader Joe’s stores are pretty tiny!
Especially when you compare to a more traditional grocery store, which often has a dozen aisles or more, most TJ's have just a few (well stocked) aisles. It isn't because all the good spaces were taken, or that they can't afford to expand—the small store size is on purpose! But why? TJ’s President of Stores Jon Basalone fielded the question on the latest episode of the retailer’s podcast.
“We want our stores to be small and intimate, [to] feel like a neighborhood store,” Basalone said. “Maybe you bump into somebody or a crew member and can talk about what you're buying or products or what's going on in your lives, that sort of thing.”
We must say, there is something about those tight quarters in a Trader Joe’s that can make even “humans on a mission” more likely to chat with other shoppers or ask crew members for references—and finding a crew member tends to be pretty easy! In comparison, how many times have you tried chasing down someone to ask a question at a big box store? It’s all too easy to feel alone even when surrounded by people, and we do love the sense of camaraderie that comes with shopping at Trader Joe’s.
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Basalone also noted that shopping in a “cavernous store” with massive aisles may sound appealing, but it ends up making a store feel more cold and impersonal—the complete opposite of what we love about our local Trader Joe’s!
So next time you have to wait a few minutes for someone to pick out the right nut butter or realize you have to go back through the zoo that is the produce aisle just for a lemon, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a nearby shopper or ask a crew member one of your burning Trader Joe’s questions. That's what it's about!