- Trader Joe’s is a nautical-themed grocery store that boasts healthy products, low prices, and eco-friendly policies. And people are obsessed.
- We visited a Trader Joe’s to see the source of the hype and found seven reasons that people love the chain.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
There’s a lot to love about Trader Joe’s.
The grocery chain has broad appeal, from the health-conscious to the penny-pinching, and is rising in the ranks of the American grocery market. The store has cultivated a broad customer base with its low prices, unique offerings, and charming store features.
For the health-conscious, Trader Joe’s offers a plethora of natural and organic products. For the bargain shopper, the store’s low prices are especially appealing. On top of that, the store’s eco-friendly policies have the dual effect of being more sustainable and lowering costs for shoppers.
We’re also fans of the store, placing it above Whole Foodsin a head-to-head review.
The first Trader Joe’s opened in 1967. Now with 488 stores across the US, the nautical-themed grocery store has managed to preserve that small-chain feel while inching its way into the hearts of shoppers across the country.
Historically, the chain also has one of the best sales per square footage in the grocery industry and fans around the country delight in sharing their favourite food items and tips for shopping at the store. Locations in big cities like New York routinely have lines out the door at peak shopping times.
In short, people love Trader Joe’s – and we wanted to understand why.
We visited a Manhattan Trader Joe’s to check out the hype for ourselves. From its eco-friendly policies to store theme, we found seven main reasons that people across the board love Trader Joe’s.
1. THEME: Trader Joe’s has a nautical theme. Many design elements — like these wooden watermelon crates outside the front doors — made the store feel like a coastal trading post.
This corn crate in the produce section looked like something that had just been loaded off a cargo ship.
Even the section for employees was consistent with the theme of the store. People who work at Trader Joe’s are called “crew members,” not employees.
The sounds in the store also bolstered the theme. Every so often, we heard the tolling of a ship bell coming from the registers, a sign of a customer in need of service. The crew members also used decorative oars in the checkout lines to let shoppers know their registers were open.
2. STORE DESIGN: Theme aside, the beautiful store design of Trader Joe’s was apparent from the moment we entered. This sign at the front of the store was only the beginning of the decorative elements we would encounter on our journey.
This mosaic display near the flowers at the front of the store was practically an art installation.
Trader Joe’s also has cute signs that advertise different products. Some of them — like this banana one — featured clever plays on words.
A lot of the signs had a rustic, hand-drawn quality to them that gave the grocery store a more personal, down-to-earth feel.
The soft blue walls also mixed nicely with the light wood finish for an overall relaxing tone in the store. We also found what looked like hand-painted murals on various pillars throughout the store.
Everywhere we looked, we found ourselves falling for cute paintings and signs.
3. HEALTHY OPTIONS: The most obvious healthy option available at Trader Joe’s is the produce. And there’s plenty of that to go around.
Our favourite item in this section was definitely the mini avocado bunches for about $US5 a cluster.
But outside of produce, Trader Joe’s has a large selection of different healthy options like dried fruit …
… as well as nuts.
A lot of the packaged products also had a healthier bent to them. This section of chips featured “reduced guilt” potato chips that are supposed to be healthier than regular brands.
Source: Club Trader Joe’s
This Trader Joe’s also had a whole selection of protein powders and bars.
4. LOW PRICES: Trader Joe’s has a lot of different tactics for keeping its prices low. A primary one involves getting products directly from suppliers.
This means that a lot of Trader Joe’s products are in-house and though they might seem similar to more mainstream brands, they are almost always cheaper.
These veggie sticks looked pretty similar to the more commonly known veggie straws available in other stores like Whole Foods, but were marked at almost half the price of the better-known brand. In addition to the lower prices, Trader Joe’s-brand food items are often delicious, which brings us to our next reason to love the grocery chain…
5. QUALITY: In addition to keeping the prices low, Trader Joe’s-brand products — like these vanilla and chocolate cupcakes — are absolutely delicious in our experience.
Taste aside, the whimsical packaging of these products was also appealing.
6. ECO-FRIENDLY POLICIES: One of the more obvious features of Trader Joe’s is that it uses recyclable and reusable paper bags at checkout even where it isn’t required.
Trader Joe’s also encourages customers to bring their own reusable bags. Shoppers who do this can be entered into a raffle to win a $US25 gift card.
Recently, Trader Joe’s announced it would cut plastic packaging on certain food items like garlic to reduce plastic waste. This move was part of the company’s plan to eliminate 1 million pounds of plastic from its stores in 2019 and had the dual effect of being more sustainable and reducing prices on certain items.
7. QUICK SERVICE: The lines at Trader Joe’s can be daunting, especially in the post-work rush.
Luckily, things move pretty quickly at Trader Joe’s. There are usually many registers and crew members help move the process along.
From entry to checkout, we found a lot of reasons to love Trader Joe’s. The cheap and delicious products and charming store design made it clear why the grocery chain has attracted such a loyal following.
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