7 Ways Trader Joe's Is Better Than Other Grocery Chains

Everyone’s favorite neighborhood supermarket.

<p>Nicolas McComber/Getty Images</p>

Nicolas McComber/Getty Images

Despite being a national chain, Trader Joe’s somehow makes you feel like you’ve found the most charming supermarket nestled in the center of a small town. It’s small and quaint, but packed with hidden gems and some of the friendliest employees you’ve ever met. Not to mention, the prices are competitive and the selection of products is top-notch. Trader Joe’s remains one of the most popular and beloved grocery stores around, and here are a few reasons why.

Related: 10 Lazy Trader Joe's Meals You Can Make in 15 Minutes or Less

Trader Joe’s Private Label Products

Trader Joe’s takes pride in its private label products, which aren’t just cheap knock-offs of the brand-name counterparts. A lot of product development and fine tuning goes into perfecting each item, and a team of Trader Joe’s executives have to approve all of them before they hit the shelves. So, customers have a lot of confidence and trust in the Trader Joe’s name. 

The brand also has strict criteria for what ingredients make the cut. You won’t find any artificial flavors, food coloring, GMOs, or MSG in TJ’s products.

Friendly Staff Members

Trader Joe’s has a reputation for having some of the friendlist employees—so much so that people wondered whether they’re trained to flirt with customers (FYI, they’re not).

The first thing you see when you enter a Trader Joe’s store is a happy employee welcoming you inside. You’ll come across several staff members throughout the store stocking the shelves and assisting customers, so if you need help finding something, you don’t have to go far. Finally, as you head for the checkout, there are always several lanes open with smiling staffers ready to strike up a conversation about your day.

Unique Products

You can get your avocadoes, canned tuna, and chicken breasts at any grocery store, but there are certain products you can only get at Trader Joe’s. Fan favorites include the Speculoos Cookie Butter, Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, and Unexpected Cheddar Cheese. It may not seem like a huge deal, but scoring a fun item at TJ’s can make something mundane, like grocery shopping and meal planning, a way to romanticize your life.

The chain also creates tons of demand with its unique seasonal products. Every major holiday inspires a wave of limited items, such as pumpkin-flavored everything in the fall, and peppermint, gingerbread, and eggnog equivalents in the winter. TJ’s even offers candles, beauty products, and greeting cards to match the season, so there’s always something new and exciting to look forward to.

Related: 14 Best Trader Joe's Food and Recipe Hacks, According to Employees

Reasonable Prices

Since the significant majority of products for sale at Trader Joe’s is from the chain’s private label, the prices are pretty competitive. Costco is known for its $5 rotisserie chicken, and Trader Joe’s is known for its affordable fancy cheeses, wine, dips, and more.

Plus, there are a few ways that the chain keeps its costs low, so the private label options are not only top-tier quality, but at reasonable prices, too. For example, Trader Joe’s does away with supplier fees that get passed on to shoppers, large stores, and advertising costs to keep prices low. In the rare event that a name-brand item finds itself on the shelves at Trader Joe’s, the chain doesn’t charge extra for the shelf space.

Convenient Frozen Items

For a relatively small store, Trader Joe’s has a massive frozen section. It’s got your basics like frozen broccoli, strawberries, and salmon filets, but it’s also got some gems you can’t get elsewhere. Some of the best sellers include the Mandarin Orange Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Steamed Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings.

If you favor quick and easy meals, the Trader Joe’s frozen aisle is where it’s at. Between the frozen aisle, ready-to-eat salad kits, and marinated meats, dinner has never been more convenient.

Generous Return Policy

Trader Joe’s stands behind its products, so if you don’t absolutely love something, just bring it back for a full refund—even if you already opened and tried it. This incentives shoppers to try new products, since the generous return policy pretty much screams “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!”

The return policy is so generous, you don’t even need a receipt. You won’t get cash for it, and you’ll get the lowest advertised price, but you’ll get store credit.

Related: 10 Underrated Trader Joe's Items to Add to Your Grocery List ASAP

Free Samples

Everyone loves a free sample, and Trader Joe’s is happy to let you try anything in the store. You might see an employee passing out free samples of new products every now and then (this is what they call a “demo”), but that’s not your only opportunity to see if a product is worth buying before adding it to your cart. If anything piques your interest, simply ask an employee if you can sample it. They’ll open it right on up so you can try it for yourself.

The “Try Anything” policy applies to almost anything—except for alcoholic drinks and frozen food. Most ready-to-eat foods are fair game.

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