I remember my first shopping experience at Trader Joe’s well. It was in 2003 and I was visiting my younger sister in California. I’d heard her rave about the store over and over, but truthfully, it’s hard to really appreciate all the enthusiasm until you actually shop at one. When we walked in (hauling a handful of Trader Joe’s signature blue and white canvas bags) I immediately noticed something different. I recall the bright, welcoming feel of the store, and of course, the smiling employees dressed in colorful Hawaiian shirts. Then there was the food and the really great prices.
It didn’t take me long to realize why so many people become diehard fans of Trader Joe’s. In fact, after just 20 minutes of shopping, we had a cart half filled with specialty cheeses, a huge bag of organic spinach, something called Cookie Butter, and several bottles of $2.50 Charles Shaw wine (a.k.a. “two buck chuck”). And we’d hardly spent $50 yet. I was hooked.
Since then, I’ve had to travel far and wide to get my fix of Trader Joe’s. Thankfully, that has all come to end as Birmingham welcomes its very own Trader Joe’s store. The new store, located in The Summit, is now open. We’ve put together some of the top reasons why people can’t seem to get enough of shopping at Trader Joe’s (and why you will likely love it too!).
Although it’s a fun atmosphere, people don’t religiously return to shop at Trader Joe’s because they like being surrounded by all those Hawaiian shirts. Hands down, what brings people back is the combination of great food at low, low prices. If you’re wondering how they keep food costs so low, it’s because of two proven strategies. First, the company buys its products directly from suppliers through a competitive bidding system (and then labels items with its own Trader Joe’s branding) and second, the grocery chain abstains from most all forms of traditional marketing efforts and instead relies greatly on word of mouth promotion, which, of course, costs them nothing.
Limited (but great) product selection
Don’t let the feel of a smaller store and the limited grocery selection worry you. Trader Joe’s has done the research and knows that by offering fewer choices of high-quality items, the store is typically able to sell more of one type of product. The result is a quick turnaround that leads to purchasing larger quantities from suppliers. By limiting its selection, Trader Joe’s is able to restock at a faster rate because of the quicker turnaround.
These two factors help drive down the costs. Although there isn’t a tremendous variety (Trader Joe’s stocks an average of 4,000 in-store items compared to other grocery chains which carry anywhere from 35,000-50,000 items), customers don’t seem to mind, especially when they know their favorite product will usually always be in stock.
Basic necessities, organics, and more
Trader Joe’s is well known for carrying a fun assortment of unique, specialty items (like the amazingly addictive Cookie Butter I mentioned). Yet, you can also trust the store to offer just as many of everyday staples and plenty of pre-made frozen meals as well.
Need a little inspiration while meal planning? Check out recipes from Trader Joe’s.
As far as organics, there are plenty of options available. Some of the more popular organic items include specialty cheeses, organic French roast coffee, a great selection of nuts and seeds, and even organic candy (like these dark chocolate peanut butter cups!). Trader Joe’s also sells a variety of organic meats including ground beef, which often sells anywhere from 50 cents to $2 less per pound than at other grocery stores.
However, not all products at Trader Joe’s are completely organic. If it really matters to you, just make sure to read the product labels well and be on the lookout for items that say they’re made with organic ingredients– which doesn’t exactly translate to being entirely certified organic.
When it comes down to it, anyone can tell you all about the many reasons that make it worth shopping at Trader Joe’s. However, if you really want to understand what makes this store so universally different from others, there’s no better way than to simply make the trip and experience Birmingham’s new store for yourself.