Skip To Content

    19 Secrets About Trader Joe's That'll Make You Go "Huh"

    Tell your friends.

    1. At many Trader Joe's, employees hide a stuffed animal for kids to find and redeem for a lollipop.

    @kristinbentonphotography / Instagram / Via instagram.com

    "Some stores will hide it in the shelves for the kids to find, others put them in a high place and all the kid needs to do is say where they saw it to the cashier to get a lollipop," says this Reddit user and Trader Joe's employee. "Often we'll ask the kids who found it to rehide it for us and they'll sometimes hide it so well we can't find it for weeks."

    2. You can taste test any product.

    Guian Bolisay / Flickr / Via flic.kr

    "I've only experienced two or three occasions where a customer tried to take advantage of this and wanted us to open literally 10+ products," says the Reddit user and Trader Joe's employee. "Management had to step in and kindly inform them that one or two products is fine but we have to draw the line somewhere." The remainder of whatever food is opened is apparently offered to crew members.

    3. The peanut butter pretzel — one of Trader Joe's most popular items — is created via a "marvel of food manufacturing."

    Ecummings00 / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

    According to an NPR article: The pretzels are created via a process called co-extrusion, invented in the 1980s. "Basically, an outer tube pumps out pretzel dough, while an inner tube pumps out peanut butter filling onto a conveyor belt," NPR explains. "The whole thing is then sliced up and baked in a giant 100-foot oven."

    4. Some of Trader Joe's most popular products are believed to have well-known suppliers behind them.

    Trader Joe's / Jet / Via jet.com

    As Eater explains in "What Brands Are Actually Behind Trader Joe's Snacks?" popular brands (such as Naked Juice) have directly supplied TJ's with their products. TJ's is pretty secretive about their suppliers, but comparisons of other items — like TJ's gluten free chocolate chip cookies vs. Tate's Bake Shop's — reveal almost identical ingredients, packaging, and taste, says Eater.

    And while Trader Joe's did not confirm any information regarding its suppliers, I think we can all agree on the general finding that almost everything you buy at Trader Joe's is probably sold at another store, for a higher price, without the cheerful, Hawaiian–shirt-clad staff to help.

    5. Employees get 10% off products.

    DreamWorks Pictures

    6. At some stores, you can request items that your local TJ's may not carry.

    7. As a manager, you can make up to $80k a year.

    Nickelodeon

    8. For five years, a Canadian retailer named "Pirate Joe's" bought and resold Trader Joe's products to Canadian shoppers.

    Pirate Joe's / Yelp / Via yelp.com

    Trader Joe's sued the store, which finally shuttered earlier this June. Read about his covert (and very shady) shopping tactics here.

    9. In 2014, the former president of Trader Joe's (and a 31-year company veteran) opened a nonprofit grocery store that sells healthy food at junk-food prices.

    Daily Table / Via dailytable.org

    Started by Doug Rauch and located in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Daily Table is stocked with healthy food donated by wholesalers or bought at special prices.

    10. Trader Joe's former CEO John V. Shields Jr. personally interviewed store manager candidates in the early years of expansion.

    Michael Nagle / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

    According to a New York Times article, applicants who didn't smile in the first 30 seconds, he once said, weren't considered.

    11. Employees use a bell system instead of an intercom to communicate with each other.

    Aranami / Flickr / Via flic.kr

    As the Trader Joe's website explains: "One bell lets our Crew know when to open another register. Two bells mean there are additional questions that need to be answered at the checkout. Three bells call over a manager-type person."

    12. Many items have immediate expiration dates because none of the Trader Joe's private label products are made with preservatives.

    Paul Downey / Flickr / Via flic.kr

    13. You won't ever see discounts or sales because TJ's is committed to offering affordable products on a day-to-day basis.

    Aranami / Flickr / Via Flickr: z0

    14. You can return anything — even opened items without a receipt — for a full refund.

    NBC

    No questions asked.

    15. Trader Joe is real and refers to Joe Coulombe, who founded the grocery chain in 1967.

    Entrepreneur / YouTube / Via youtube.com

    16. Stores are overstaffed so that employees never feel the need to neglect their customer service duties.

    Joe Raedle / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

    As one source interviewed by PopSugar says, "They totally overstaff so that you don't feel like your stocking duties or your register duties trump interacting with customers — they encourage you to be nice to customers."

    17. Every store has an artist who designs the shelf signs.

    18. The first private label, organic product sold was Organic Unfiltered Apple Juice.

    19. Coulombe once said the ideal Trader Joe’s customer was “an unemployed Ph.D.”

    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com