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Don’t Say No(s) to Trader Joe’s

Like many of you, I too dread the mundane happenings of life, such as grocery shopping. But what if the grocery store wasn’t just a place where the more-than-occasional rude and hurried person rushed from one aisle to another, often steam-rolling your foot with their grocery cart? What if it was more than a stressful occasion of organizing your coupons after having successfully snuck into the express lane with a couple extra items? What if it was a place where the workers were more like friends, rather than grumpy strangers wishing to be anywhere else but their job? Enter Trader Joe’s.

What, you may ask, distinguishes Trader Joe’s from the thousands of other cookie cutter grocery stores? Well, as soon as you step foot into the friendly atmosphere, you’ll notice that this is a store with character – it doesn’t just supply you with the bare necessities, it provides you with an experience. From the workers’ Hawaiian print shirts to the beautifully drawn chalkboard signs displayed, the aesthetics of the store provide a more engaging shopping experience. You simply don’t get the same environment from the washed out walls of Hannaford or the grimy floors of warehouse-esque Sam’s Club.

You’ll notice that this environment is created by the employees, who genuinely want to help you, the customers. Once, I was there trying to pick out a 3 pound pumpkin for a physics project, since the other stores I had previously went to failed me. When I asked an employee at Trader Joe’s for help, he not only dug out a scale from the back of the store, but he continued to search for the perfect pumpkin with me and even offered to take down the ones being displayed, just to possibly fulfill my pumpkin needs. If that’s not true dedication to customer service, then I don’t know what is. What I do know is that when I had asked an employee at Price Chopper for help, he briskly told me that “what I saw was what was in stock,” and I left the store, annoyed and pumpkin-less.

As you continue to browse your way through the store, your eyes might spot The Galley. My friends, this “heavenly place that offers free food” is arguably the most enticing part of the entire store, where featured food and drink items are handed out, and freshly brewed coffee always awaits you. And I mean, sure, the dingy roll around carts at Sam’s Club might offer you an array of cracker and cheese combos, fresh out of their packages. However, if the whole point of sampling is to try something new, and crackers and especially cheese have quite literally been around for ages, then what have you gained, other than a bad stomachache?

Moving on from the Galley, you might also notice the care put into the packaging and naming of all the products. The snacks have the wittiest names, such as “this [insert fruit name] walks into a bar”, and their granola bars are described as “raising the bar.” Additionally, even the most ordinary of items such as boxes of tea bags have the most intricate designs on them.

More importantly, you might be astonished to find such high quality goods at such low prices in every nook and cranny of the store. It might be perplexing at first that the milk expires within a week of its sell by date, but then you’ll realize it’s because there are no artificial flavors or preservatives, or even GMOs put into any of their food items. Other stores might offer comparably low prices — they tell you they want to help you “save money”-  but the quality of their items seems so subpar that the promise of “[living] better” is self-contradictory. On the other end of the spectrum, Whole Foods might offer some great organic and generally healthier options, but most of us don’t have three dollars to spend on a single granola bar. The solution? Get the best of both worlds at Trader Joe’s: you can save money on higher quality goods and have the satisfaction of knowing that your money was well spent.

When you’re finally ready to checkout, you might find yourself frightened by the sheer length of the checkout lines. Perhaps you’ll be surprised to find that there are no express lanes, but this is because there is no need – the lines move much faster than expected since the cashiers bag groceries at superhuman speed. In addition, while you’re waiting in line there aren’t any crazy kids wailing at the top of their lungs; rather, you get to peacefully thumb through more enticingly original products that they strategically place before the checkout. Finally getting to watch the cashiers pack your overflowing cart of goods into a single paper bag is a magic show in itself. They somehow singlehandedly arrange your groceries into efficient configurations, so you can even be eco-friendly by using one paper bag, instead of many plastic ones. Not only are the cashiers extremely skilled, but they are also extremely easy to strike up lighthearted conversations with, which helps you completely forget about the “long wait” you had to “endure.”

While many may argue that Trader Joe’s is “just a grocery store,” you and I both know that it is so much more going there is an adventure that offers you a taste of food heaven. While others may be deterred by the chaotic parking lot, that only goes to show how so many others have already been exposed to and hooked by the wonders that Trader Joe’s has to offer. Do yourself a favor, and don’t think for a second that this place doesn’t welcome the average Joe; don’t settle for the monotony of everyday life when Trader Joe’s will always be there to spice things up.