Trader Joe’s cashiers have a reputation for flirting. CEO says there’s a good reason

(KTLA) – Did it seem like the cashier at Trader Joe’s was being more than just friendly while bagging your frozen mandarin orange chicken and 19-cent bananas? The company’s CEO understand why you may think that.

In a recent episode on the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, CEO Bryan Palbaum addressed the rumors that employees are trained to flirt with customers and said it’s just that – a rumor.

But Palbaum said he understands why employees’ signature chattiness “might be misinterpreted.”

“Well, I think we just have such a unique environment in our stores that, to go into a Trader Joe’s store and feel that everyone is genuinely interested in whether or not you are having a good day, compared to maybe perhaps other retailers, I could see how that might be misinterpreted,” he said.

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Trader Joe’s employees are known for striking up conversations with customers in the checkout aisle, commenting when they like what they’re ringing up or suggesting new things to try next time. President and vice CEO Jon Bassalone said that catches some people off guard.

“You go through this world, and you run into so many people that aren’t genuine, that aren’t kind to you, that when you walk into a place when that’s happening, it feels like, whoa, OK, I think they’re flirting with me when actually that’s just what niceness feels like, you know?” Bassalone said.

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While the company does not encourage its employees to flirt with customers, Palbaum said he encourages new recruits to “be genuine” and be themselves. “We hope that you’re going into an environment that you’re going to feel comfortable everyday walking into and enjoying it and finding people that you enjoy working with and having wonderful interactions with customers.”

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