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What to buy and what to skip at Trader Joe’s

By Lisa Gosselin, February 7, 2011 - 12:18pm

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I don't see why so many of you are raving about TJ's customer service. I find it very spotty, most of the staff I've dealt with aren't pleasant to me at all. I'd rather deal with ANY cashier from a regular supermarket rather than the freaky weirdos that work at TJs. I find them very fake; they give you the illusion that they're all about great customer service, but I believed they are unbiased to a certain type of customer and biased to the rest. I've noticed a few times, (I love to watch people when they're not expecting to be watch) that their cashiers are only helpful occasionally, but pretty much you can count on them being inconsistent.

This one time I was 3rd in line. I distinctly saw the cashier open up that side tray where the baskets are kept for the customers in front of me, by the time I got there, the tray was put away. Really?? I had to put my basket up on the counter myself. Then suddenly, the young male cashier opens the tray and places my basket there. If they were about GREAT customer service, the tray would have been open initially, precluding me from having to place it up top.

Now most times I don't mind bagging my own groceries. In fact, I think it's something that I do practically every trip. This one occasion, I had to fumble through my wallet to look for payment options, and I deliberately noticed the cashier SLOW her price scanning down. Since I already started bagging, she allowed me to get my payment together and continue bagging my own groceries. REALLY? Some cashiers put on the oblivious look as if they're so into their work that they're unable to multitask. Perhaps before electronic scanning I wouldn't mind, but come on.

I pretty much despise every cashier I've had while there. Every time I enter a TJs, I ask myself, what do the PHONY, LISTLESS cashiers have in store for me today; surely, I'm going to have some sort of problem with them one way or another. The ONLY time I recall I had a great experience was with a mature lady (probably in her 60s) who was the nicest ever. If I'm dealing with the 20-30yo set, forget about it.

These are the main reasons why I don't like shopping there. Their cashiers and checkout process leave so much to be desired. Could it be racially motivated? I'm not sure, probably not, but I'm 100% certain that I've gotten horrible treatment by some cashiers because of my race.

If TJs offered self checkout, I'd shop there much more often. As it stands now, I shop there less and less.


03/02/2012 - 3:59pm

Traders joes
Read the label
watch the sodium content
Useually more than is good for you
Often more than tastes good



03/02/2012 - 12:05pm

For those people that keep kosher like myself, I just wanted to point out that packaged Kosher meat is MUCH cheaper at TJ's than any other store. The boneless skinless Empire Kosher Chicken Breasts are about $2 less per pound at my local TJ's than at my local grocery store and similar lower costs are found with their beef as well.


03/02/2012 - 9:12am

The packaged nuts, the crackers, the pita chips, the chocoloate, the coffee ,the mac and cheese, the frozen prepared vegetables, the $1.00 greeting cards, the flowers for $3.99, the breakfast bars, the granola bars,the cereals, etc etc etc. My 86 year old mother loves their shampoo and conditioner and she is not easy to please. A great place to shop


03/01/2012 - 10:25pm

Great article, but don't forget to proofread! "....especially at West *Coast locations...."

~ TJ's employee


03/01/2012 - 7:03pm

I find in the DC area that the ground beef is a great deal. Consistent $2.49/lb while at the Giant down the road it's $2.99/lb...and that's when the bigger store puts it on sale.


03/01/2012 - 3:06pm

Right now, the best wine deal in Illinois is there Grifone Primitivo. The Primitivo grape is the exact same grape as Zinfandel, but grown in Italy. The Grifone sells for $3.99 a bottle and tastes better than a lot of $10 bottles from the supermarket IMHO.


03/01/2012 - 3:05pm

I'm from California, now living in Washington, DC. I grew up with Trader Joe's and I am the designated shopper in our family. In our county TJ's doesn't sell wine (stupid, antiquated liquor laws) but here's what I gravitate towards: I do think the in season organic fruit is good. I think, unlike another commenter, that the cheeses are very tasty (try cheddar with caramelized onions). The nuts and dried fruit are good bargains as are some frozen foods.

The one thing I hate is that they're always rearranging the shelves so it's often hard to go in and find what you want in the place you expect it to be. I've complained a lot about that to them. Even if the floorplan isn't the same from store to store, keep it as consistent as possible within the store.


03/01/2012 - 1:40pm

never had much good to say about the produce....I do like the Spanish Olive oil, the nuts, the dijon mustard and there is great apple juice that I cannot think of the name of. and of course the wine especially Vola Pino Grigio, Also the kosher dills they do not have yellow dye in them that is not easy to find in most stores.

Also the California style Complete Protein bread that is similar to Ezekiel bread which they also carry, the whole grain flour tortillas, they eggs, green tea, the coffee.

Love to shop there....all except produce !


02/29/2012 - 7:46pm

I think Trader Joes rivals any local store for organic produce. Especially when shopping for produce in season.


02/29/2012 - 7:43pm

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