Professing my love for Trader Joe
As someone who would do almost anything to not interact with another human being while grocery shopping, I welcome the opportunity to engage with people working at Trader Joe’s. I’ve had some of the most unexpectedly lovely conversations with employees at my local store. One of them even made a pun about every single item while I checked out.
Trader Joe’s hits the nail on the head (into its reclaimed wood signage) when it comes to the idea of selling, not a product, an experience. Shopping there has been described as a “treasure hunt,” which is fitting considering its crew ship environment.
To help guide my quest of its hidden gems, in addition to the official Instagram account, I follow six Trader Joe’s fan accounts. I’ve also seen a few TJ’s enthusiast TikTok‘s recently, my personal favorite’s being of people showing off their favorite products while Justin Bieber’s “Yummy” plays in the background.
Part of the Trader Joe’s business model is a limited in-store product selection of only around 3,000 items, whereas a typical supermarket can carry up to 50,000. TJ’s implements what’s known as a “truck to shelf system,” meaning it doesn’t order too many of its items. This both prevents food waste and keeps prices down.
The only qualm I have is sometimes the store is out of what I want for extended periods of time (looking at you, green tea mochi).
My theory is that the phenomenon of disappearing products creates, whether intentionally or not, a variable ratio reward system. The concept is similar to how a text you’ve been waiting for, that pops up out of no where, is somehow more gratifying (and the person who sent it, more desirable).
Once it’s back though, I get a quality dopamine rush.
Read about some of my favorite feel-good chemical releasing foodstuffs in my new blog post here.