10 Things You Didn't Know About... Trader Joe's
What's not to love about Trader Joe's? The staff all wear Hawaiian shirts, the store is chock full of unique things to eat and drink and there always seems to be some really good deals. Try shopping at any of the region's 16 Trader Joe's and you'll see its large following of shoppers. Consumer Reports magazine ranked it the second best supermarket chain in the country after Wegmans. And we all know how I feel about Wegmans these days. So here are some things you didn't know about Trader Joe's:
1. In a former life Trader Joe's competed with 7-Eleven. Instead of the unique neighborhood grocery store that it is now, Trader Joe's, which went by Prontos, was more of a convenience store. But in the late 1960s the small chain, which was only in Southern California, was converted to the neighborhood grocery store we know and love.
2. Trader Joe's is 50 years old, started in Pasadena, Calif., by a guy named Joe Coulombe, a Stanford University MBA who has since handed over reins of the company to other smart people.
3. The store carries 2,000 unique grocery items, with at least 80 percent of them exclusive to Trader Joe's. The rest comes from all over the world, except China. The company decided to stop carrying anything made in China two years ago because of customer concerns, according to a company spokesperson.
4. Each Trader Joe's store has its own in-house artist, many of whom have formal training in art and design. So that means the artwork on the signs and other displays is exclusive to each store.
5. Every Trader Joe's has a plastic lobster somewhere in its midst. There's no explanation for it and no one has admitted to starting the trend but each store gets one. And that bell that you hear from time to time is the signal that a food demonstration is about to begin.
Correction: Boy, you readers are good. Thanks to those of you who pointed out my bell mistake. It's true that if you hear a single bell ring in a Trader Joe's store, it means that more cashiers are needed, two bells means a cashier needs a price check, a balloon to be blown up or an item needs to be put back on the shelf and three rings means that a manager is needed.
6. Any product on the shelf can be sampled. Employees are allowed to open up any jar or box to let customers try them. No can do on wine, though.
7. Trader Joe's has its own fan club. The Trader Joe's Fan Club, launched by a faithful customer in 2006, has about 9,000 members who can get 550 recipes and 680 product reviews from its Web site.
8. Speaking of Trader Joe's fans, two of its biggest put together a cookbook called "Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's" that was released earlier this year. Literally every ingredient in every recipe can be purchased at the small grocery store.
10. Trader Joe's total sales reached $6.5 billion in 2007, according to Supermarket News.
Which stores would you like to know more about? E-mail me at email@example.com with some suggestions.
By Tania Anderson |
November 13, 2008; 12:00 AM ET
10 Things You Didn't Know About...
Previous: A Love Affair With Wegmans Begins | Next: Is It About the Experience or the Deals?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: mdsails | November 13, 2008 8:14 AM
Posted by: sarahabc | November 13, 2008 10:20 AM
Posted by: ldf1 | November 13, 2008 10:47 AM
Posted by: skipper7 | November 13, 2008 11:14 AM
Posted by: LittleRed1 | November 13, 2008 11:48 AM
Posted by: northgs | November 13, 2008 11:59 AM
Posted by: Dungarees | November 13, 2008 12:06 PM
Posted by: ghokee | November 13, 2008 2:11 PM
Posted by: jakeepoo | November 13, 2008 3:37 PM
Posted by: lilylivard | November 13, 2008 4:53 PM
Posted by: tegularius | November 18, 2008 10:11 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.