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Trader Joe's Grocery Store Or Novelty Store

Updated on November 20, 2014

Grocery Store? Novelty Store?

I stumbled into Trader Joe's. I was in a strange town, it was the only place to buy food. The Hawaiian themed store seemed somewhat unusual. The kids were starving. I remember the only soda, I recognized in the store was Hansen's.

Trader Joe's built a store in the next town where I would stop now and then.

A couple of years ago Trader Joe's opened across the street from my gym. It was a great place to pop into after a workout for a salad or wrap. There are always forks and napkins available for lunch on the go.

The more I learn about Trader Joe's the more I like it.

Trader Joe's, commonly called T.J.'s, caters to health minded people who don't have tons of money to spend on healthy foods. There are no big name labels. Most of the labels are Trader Joe exclusive products. The majority of their stock is purchased in bulk, directly from suppliers.

The company is sensitive to the environment and the dietary needs of their customers, Luckily for me, as my needs for gluten and dairy free foods increased so did T.J.'s selection of gluten and dairy free foods.

Their philosophy is great food + great price= value.

As hard as the buyers at T.J..'s try to maintain stock their customers like, suppliers go out of business or are unable to produces quality goods Trader Joe's demands. Because their overhead doesn't include catering to big brand name and they buy direct from many of their producers their prices tend to be very good. They are non-union, their workers wouldn't want to be union. The employees are well treated. They receive health benefits when they work 30 hours a week, and get to wear Hawaiian shirts and shorts to work. The employees are an interesting, helpful and friendly group

Healthy Food Not Always Organic

This is not a Whole Foods organic only type of store. They use common sense approach to providing healthy, affordable food, some of their food is not organic, but they have a non- genetically modified policy and much of their food is organic. Trader Joe's is always less expensive when buying smaller quantities than larger stores.


Because they buy in bulk much of their meat is frozen instead of fresh. There is a difference between processed packaged food and fresh frozen food. In some instances "fresh frozen fish" is far more nutritious than "fresh fish" sitting in a meat case all day after being caught who knows when. Most of the meat is packaged for one or two servings. This is handy for the individual who wants to eat well, but doesn't have an army to feed.

Pumpkin Pie pumpkin from Trader Joe's
Pumpkin Pie pumpkin from Trader Joe's | Source


You can always get a banana for 19 cents (29 cents for organic) The bananas are a nice single serving size. They have some produce that is spectacular like Brussel sprouts on the stock (in season) The fresh produce looks like farmers market produce, It's not perfect and showy, but certainly wholesome and tasty.

Salad Display



The most popular place in the whole store is the sample kiosk. Every day there are different samples. Every day, there is also coffee. The coffee sample is small, but somehow it hits the spot in the afternoon when you don't really want a full cup of caffeinated coffee. There are samples of Joe's half and half, soy creamer, sugar and different sweeteners.

Trader Joe's Bistro Salad


Salads and Quick Lunches

T.J. 's salads are addictive. When nothing else sounds good T.J.'s Bistro Salad is most satisfying. Made from Kale, edemame, slivered almonds, cranberries with a light lemon dressing is delicious. The hearts of palm and artichoke salad is tasty very good, There are lots of others that are really good.

T. J.'s wraps are yummy. My favorite is the Vietnamese chicken. The wraps come with dipping sauces or dressings. Some you heat and others you don't need to heat. There are utensils if you are on the run. Most of the forks and napkins are at the front of the store, but sometimes they are near the samples.



Trader Joe's always has the right wine to pair with your meal. Their wine guide is located on line. Each store has at least one charming sommelier to help you with wine choices.

Charles Shaw winery's Two Buck Chuck, is a generic wine which originally cost $1.99. Now it is $2.49 in California. Chuck is more expensive outside of California. Two-Buck Chuck is generic wine made, from California grapes, exclusively for Trader Joe's. The story is the company, which makes Two-Buck Chuck, uses tailing from area wineries. Sometimes you get a really high quality wine, which from the original label would cost much more. I have never had a really bad bottle of Chuck and some of them have been wonderful.

Dessert Sampler

Left :meringue cookies, dark chocolate mints. Center: strawberry licorice, meringue cookie Right: meringue cookies,chocolate peanut butter covered pretzels
Left :meringue cookies, dark chocolate mints. Center: strawberry licorice, meringue cookie Right: meringue cookies,chocolate peanut butter covered pretzels | Source


If you want to make a stunning dessert tray, Trader Joe's, snack isle has variety you don't find in local grocery stores. Strawberry licorice, chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels meringue cookies, and raspberry sticks make a pretty dish for a company table

There is never trouble finding gluten, free dairy free T.J.'s desserts. .

Trader Joe's

4 stars for Peanut butter filled chocolate covered pretzels

What Do You Think Trader Joe's Is?

Is Trader Joe's a novelty store or grocery store?

See results

Customer Service

The people at Trader Joe's are friendly and interested in helping their customers have the best shopping experience possible.

If you aren't satisfied with a product, take it back. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes something is not as fresh as you expected. There is never difficulty exchanging or getting a refund for something that is spoiled or not what you expected. Quality is high on their list of customer services.

There are usually employees scattered around the store available to help you find what you need. The service desk is in the front of the store if you need help and the staff at the sample store is always very capable to help you with any questions you might have.

There is always something to look forward to with the change of seasons. This season, fall, their goal is to have something made of pumpkin in every department. Pumpkin cookies and soup are two of my favorites. "The Frequent Flyer" newspaper comes every few months with store news., This is the best way to find the seasonal products and bargains . There is a big sign up to tell you when the new Flyer comes in if you aren't on their mailing list..

Trader Joe's stocks it's stores with value priced items customers want.

Definitely A Grocery Store.

As the dynamics of my family change, when we are once again a couple instead of a crowd I believe more of the grocery shopping will be done at T.J.'s. Until then Costco, and various other stores will still figure into my grocery shopping.

Trader Joe's is a different shopping experience. People attached to Coca-Cola, Kraft and Campbell's will be lost. Wonderful adventures can be had while lost, so I encourage you to give T.J.'s a try. T.J.'s is definitely a grocery store.. The novelty, T.J.'s, laid back friendly atmosphere makes for pleasant grocery shopping at affordable prices.


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Thanks so much Express10 for visiting. I am headed to TJ's in a bit for nuts and dried foods fruit for trail mix. I love how friendly the workers are too.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 3 years ago from East Coast

      I love Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Trader Joe's is easy to figure out where everything is and generally the prices are lower but Whole Foods has a much larger selection for many things but also has higher prices on some items.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      We have a TJ's in the area but it's just far enough away to make it inconvenient to visit. If we are in the area we will stop in and we do love TJ's. You can always count on finding something there that you haven't seen before.

      Great look at this unique place. Looking forward to the day when we have one a little closer.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Delores, for some reason T.J.'s tend to be in peculiar locations. Thanks for visiting.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I like the cute factor at Trader Joe's. But the one closest to my home is hard to get to, you have to make some weird turns in an area with too many driveways and it's so easy to drive by. And if you do pass the driveway, then you have to drive all around Robin Hood's barn to find the entrance.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 4 years ago

      I love Trader Joe's. When I lived in California I would go quite often. I've lived in three different States since leaving California, and not one has had a Trader Joe's.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      I will see my friend tomorrow, she is from Canada and travels between BC and Ontario frequently, I will ask if she knows.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      We do not have that store here. I wonder if there are any here in Canada?

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Love TJs!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      molometer, Delighted to see you.

      T.J.'s is a bit unusual, until you investigate it, then it's delightful.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      I have seen Trader Joe's when I was in the US, but never could work out what they did, so never went in to look around. Wish I had now. Dooh!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      erorantes, Thank you for visiting.

    • erorantes profile image

      Ana Maria Orantes 4 years ago from Miami Florida

      I love trader joe's. It was my favorite store for years in California. Until , I moved to Miami Florida. Recently, Trader joes open new stores in Florida. I am happy. I like your article. The quality of the food the wrapping and packing is good. Thank you to Mr. Tirelesstraveler for the reminder.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Sehnonimo , Thanks for the critique. I will revise immediately. Thank you also for the visit.

    • Sehnonimo profile image

      Sehnonimo 4 years ago from San Bruno, CA

      Ah, yes, TJ's! Haven't been by there in forever! I should go there for my next grocery trip and stock up on banana's - I like to have them with walnuts for my breakfast.

      Anyway, if I may offer one critique - your poll says "is trader joe's a novelty store or a grocery store" and then you have choices "yes" and "no". ...I was all, "huh?" Instead, they should be the choices, "grocery store" or "novelty store".

      Anyway, thanks for reminding me of how awesome TJ's is! I gotta take my husband there since he's new to the states - I think he'll like it! ^_^

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Don, Had no idea there were TJ's in so many places. You have great taste in grocery stores.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      caseymel, Will have try them.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      annjazz, Thanks for visiting. Totally agree about prices.

    • caseymel profile image

      caseymel 4 years ago from Indiana

      I love their Dairy-Free Crepes! I can't find them anywhere else.

    • annajazz profile image

      Anna Marie 4 years ago from New Mexico

      I love Trader Joe's! I am gluten intolerant, and their store offers a lot of alternatives for me at a lot lower price than places like Whole Foods.

      Awesome article.


    • Don Bobbitt profile image

      Don Bobbitt 4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Good article on a very good grocery store. I lived near one in Raleigh and we shopped there often for certain items that we just couldn't find in other big retail chains.

      I miss them now that I live in Florida but there will be one built about twenty miles away next years, so then I can shop at my favorite three stores again; Fresh Market, Whole Foods and Trader Joes.



    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      So true we don't have such stores in Dubrovnik I miss it!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      DDE, Thanks for stopping in. Sorry there is no Joe's in Dubrovnik.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      donnah75, very dissappointing there is no wine section in your T.J.'s.

      I don't buy much produce at T.J.'s because I still need Costco quantities.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      BEEZKNEEZ you gave me a great idea for a poll. Thank you and thank you for visiting today.

    • BEEZKNEEZ profile image

      BEEZKNEEZ 4 years ago

      Thanks for the review. I really like shopping there because I can get quality food for very cheap. I think that it's somewhat of a novelty store.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Trader Joe's Grocery Store Or Novelty Store a well approached review on this great store.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Mel, which store does uour son love near? The one at Liberty Station or the one on University? The snack isle has tasty peanut butter filled pretzels. My husband hides them from the kids in the freezer.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for this review. I've never been to Trader Joe's and there isn't a store near me, but I'm glad I know about it. It sounds like a good place to shop.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      We have Trader Joes just a couple of blocks from my house, but I have to admit I've never gone inside. My son shops there and he swears by it. It seems they have some very interesting items that you cannot find in standard grocery stores. I'll have to make a trip. Great hub!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Trader Joe's is a favorite among the American side of my family. I remember having lunch at TJs in Atlanta about two years ago. I salute you for saluting this fine company.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      We have great ones here in So Cal. I understand they started in Pasadena. Really on par with our co-ops

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      We have one here in upstate NY, but I want very impressed. The produce section was tiny, and that is where I do most of my shopping. Plus, no wine, which my CA friends tell me is worth the trip. NY grocery stores can't sell wine. Sigh. People do rave about TJs, so maybe I missed something. Maybe I'll stop in again to check it out.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      We could use a franchise around here. Giggle. "Local super advertising "spider-free bananas!" A reaction to a couple of bad ones showing up in banana displays in Britain.


    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Arlene's temple!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Jackie, Nice to see you.

      There is a T.J.'s in Albuquerque, New Mexico. All the name brands have gluten and dairy, so I don't miss them much.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Wow does sound like a great place. Hope he gets a lot of copy cats, if he is not branching out too far, lol. This could be the start of something grand. Thanks for sharing that very interesting info! I am already off name brands, I can handle it.