Trader Joe’s Knows: A Guide to the Store


TJ's Main Graphic

Trader Joe’s knows how to run a grocery business. I have shopped at a lot of grocery stores, but TJ’s has been one of my favorite shopping experiences. I almost feel like I’m wandering around on a tropical island (insert employees with Hawaiian shirts) rather than roaming grocery aisles. From the music to the eye-catching artwork, it’s easy to lose track of time checking off that grocery list.

Please note: This is not a sponsored post. I simply like Trader Joe’s and want moms to know that this is definitely a grocery store worth checking out.  

According to the Trader Joe’s Web site, it started off as a convenience store in 1958. Back then, it was known as Pronto Markets. In 1967 the store’s name was changed to Trader Joe’s (after an actual Trader Joe), and the business itself changed. The stores got larger, the employees donned Hawaiian shirts, and TJ’s food was packaged under their label. They have had fun with their private labels. If you buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, you’ll see it labeled as “Trader Giotto.” Some of their other foods are labeled “Trader Jose,” “Trader Ming,” and “Pilgrim Joe.” Fun and playful is truly what defines this store.

Here are the reasons I love TJ’s:


Employees are everywhere, and they have titles. The manager of a store is called the “Captain.”  Assistant managers are called “Mates.” Finally, TJ’s associates are called “Crew Members.” They are quick, efficient, and helpful. Case in point: When I went into our local store to inquire about the business, a “Crew Member” behind the sampling counter stopped what she was doing and took time to answer my questions. I could see how much she loved working there and the passion that she has to serve others through her position at TJ’s. One day last week, an employee stopped to chat with me and my son, opening up a bag of “red” chips (beet chips, y’all, but my son didn’t need to know that!) and gave him a couple. Just because. They are all about their customers.

If you have walked into a Trader Joe’s, you have seen large gold bells at the check-out. There is also one back at the sampling counter. I learned from a “Crew Member” that while they do have an intercom system, they utilize the bells to communicate. One ding to the bell means that somebody needs to come up and open another register. Two dings means that customer service is needed. For example, perhaps a new carton of eggs is needed because one of the eggs cracked. Three dings requires a manager. Finally, anything above three dings indicates happiness and joy. Four rings must be common!


I’ll be honest. I do shop at other grocery stores. I will say, however, that there are certain products that I specifically go to TJ’s to purchase. The quality of not only their food, but also their other items as well, is terrific. Their produce is always fresh, and there is always a variety. If you are looking for a snack, look no further than the chip section, where one can find peanut butter filled pretzels, apple snack sticks, organic tortilla chips, and “reduced guilt” (isn’t that a better way to say “reduced fat”?) potato chips. Need some body wash, toilet paper, or shampoo? They’ve got you covered. I recently bought their soap, shampoo, and conditioner, and I’m in love with it.

Low Prices

You will be hard-pressed to find the same food at a lower price at other stores. TJ’s values keeping their prices down, so they buy direct from their suppliers, if possible, and they don’t charge their suppliers any fees to put those items on the shelves, which would drive up prices. In fact, many of their prices have been the same for years, never budging. One item that they are very well known for is “Two-Buck Chuck,” a Charles Shaw wine that is priced below $3. Our local TJ’s is gearing up to sell wine in the store, beginning July 1.


One of my favorite things about TJ’s is their selection of beautiful flowers as you walk inside. It is my go-to spot for flowers, as I shower teachers with them during Teacher Appreciation Week and place them in vases in my home any time I have company come over. Also, their card section is just plain great. All the cards are $.99, and they are very unique. You won’t find them at Hallmark! These unique items really make TJ’s stand out from other grocery stores.

Another very unique thing about TJ’s is that all of their artwork is done in-house. They have an artist who paints and writes all of their posters and art you find in the store. The artwork reflects the community in which the store is located. For example, the store in Knoxville has murals on the walls of the cityscape, including the Sunsphere.


My kids LOVE shopping with me at TJ’s, and I don’t mind it so much because they actually have activities to keep littles busy and occupied. One of the first things my children do once they walk in is look around for the teddy bear with the Hawaiian shirt on it, hiding somewhere in the store. Once the bear is found, children can go get a sucker at the treasure chest located near customer service. Also, near the card station, there is an easel and/or table with chalk and/or crayons where your little artist can draw away while you choose between provolone or cheddar cheese.

A Few of My Favorite Things…

My mom is always asking me to write down for her my favorite TJ items, so here you go mom (and every other mom). I’ve narrowed it down to seven items, but there are many more I have not included!

Pizza with Overlay

Pizza Dough
Choose from white, wheat, or garlic. In our local store the pizza sauce, pepperonis, and shredded mozzarella are all in the same cooler section.

Cookie Butter with Overlay

Cookie Butter
Oh.Em.Gee. Spread this on anything…or don’t. Just lick the spoon.

Apple Sticks with Overlay

Cinnamon Apple Snack Sticks
These sticks remind me of the cinnamon twists from Taco Bell, only probably healthier and with more of an apple taste.

Guac with Overlay

Chunky Guacamole
What is there not to like about guacamole? Plus, it’s “reduced guilt.” Have I mentioned that I love how they word their low fat items?

Chili with Overlay

Beef Chili with Beans
They had me at “Would you like a sample?” One day my kiddos and I were shopping there, and their canned chili was the sample. I ended up buying it and making it for dinner that night. Mix in some “Pub Cheese” and you have yourself a winner.

Graham Crackers with Overlay

Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers
If you want to take your s’more game up a notch, purchase these. They are thick, and so is the cinnamon and sugar caked on them.

Shampoo with Overlay

Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner
I love the mild mint and eucalyptus smell to this shampoo and conditioner. It is refreshing and invigorating and leaves your hair feeling healthy.

Body Butter with Overlay

Coconut Body Butter
If you are craving a walk on a beach but are nowhere near one, just lather some of this body butter on, and you’ll feel like you are on vacation. It’s not heavy, and the smell will put a smile on your face.

For more fun facts about this store and to learn what some Trader Joe’s employees revealed, click here.

So what are you waiting for? Find the nearest Trader Joe’s and get shopping! Do you frequent TJ’s? If so, what are your favorite items?


  1. Love me some Tj’s. Some of my favorite things are chicken Parmesan lollipops, cookie butter cheesecake bites, turkey corn dogs, lemon cookie thins and I also love their pizza dough. I’ve never liked grocery shopping, but since I started shopping at TJ’s, grocery shopping is the highlight of my week. That place is amazing!

    • Natasha,
      Tj’s is great, and I love shopping there too! Grocery shopping can be a big bummer, but if I’m at TJ’s I enjoy it. I am going to have to pick up some of the items you suggested. Those lemon cookie thins sound amazing! Thanks for reading my post!


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