You know you’re an adult when you proudly have a favorite grocery store, and for many of us, it’s Trader Joe’s. While older folks get a kick out of the vast wine selection and the plethora of freezer meals, there are plenty of other reasons to love the neighborhood grocer. We’ve rounded up a handful of Trader Joe’s secrets and tips (including some from a store manager!) that will take your next trip to TJ’s to the next level.

1. You can return anything.



Do you have a picky eater who no longer scarfs down bags of peanut butter Bamba? Or maybe that soup wasn’t what you thought it was? Never fear, you can take it back to Trader Joe’s for a refund with no questions asked. Just take your item up to the customer service desk and let them know you’d like to return a product.

2. Trader Joe’s accepts manufacturer coupons.

It is most definitely true that TJ’s does not mark down products for sale, but here’s a big Trader Joe’s secret: they take manufacturer coupons. The next time you head to the store, grab those coupons for Annie’s or your Fage yogurt and hand them over at the checkout counter.

3. All Trader Joe’s labeled products are non-GMO.



Yes, it’s true. A manager confirmed that private-label Trader Joe’s products are all free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). So why doesn’t the label say so?

According to the company, US government agencies do not currently have clear guidelines addressing food and beverage labeling. Rather than waiting, Trader Joe’s has gone ahead and made the position of non-GMO ingredients a part of what the overall label encompasses.

P.S.: All private-label products also have no artificial flavors or preservatives, MSG, or partially hydrogenated oils!

4. Not sure if you’ll like something? Ask for a sample.

Trader Joe’s takes the guesswork out of spending your hard-earned grocery money on something the kids might hate. Just ask an employee if you can sample a product and 99% of the time, they’ll indulge you! (The jury is still out on whether this includes wine sampling.)

Related: 16 Easy Trader Joe’s Recipes That Take 15 Minutes or Less

5. When is the best time to shop at Trader Joe’s?

spring trader joe's products, women walking out of trader joe's store


Early in the day or later evening is the name of the Trader Joe’s shopping game. While every store differs slightly depending on its location (suburbs, city, etc.), most employees agree that 8-10 a.m. and the post-dinner hour on weekdays are ideal for no crowds. Weekends are a whole other ballgame, especially the Sunday post-church hour which tends to be uber busy. So drop off the big kids at school, then head over to TJ’s to shop in peace and quiet.

6. The scavenger hunt for kids is real.

You’ve probably heard about the hidden stuffie in your local Trader Joe’s, and it’s the real deal. Employees hide one in every store, changing it weekly, to keep your kids on their toes while you focus on stocking up your cart. When your kiddo finds the hidden animal, they can point it out to an employee for a special prize. It’s one of the best Trader Joe’s secrets of all!

7. Trader Joe’s is serious about seasonal items.



It only takes one, tasteless January to realize how much you loved those candy cane Joe-Joe’s that you’ll have to wait another year to stock up on. The grocer seriously enjoys spoiling its customers with seasonal and limited edition food, body, decor, and garden products—and it works because we look forward to them every year. That being said, there is no shame in the stock-up game (so long as you leave some for the rest of us!). Grab a few extra boxes of pumpkin pancake mix and minty star cookies the next time they’re in season to hold you over. Afraid you’ll miss the last shipment of your fave item? Don’t be afraid to ask a crew member on if the item is sticking around.

8. Trader Joe’s is staffed by a nautical crew.

When you work for Trader Joe’s, you aren’t just an employee. In fact, the grocer assigns nautical titles! Entry-level employees are called Crew Members, with Merchants being the next level up. Merchants perform the same duties as the Crew but have received special recognition from their community for excellent customer service. Assistant store leaders are called Mates, while store leaders are Captains. Captains are always promoted from within, just another reason to love the company. Ahoy!

Related: Trader Joe’s Has Revealed Its Most Popular Products (According to Customers)

9. Employees are the experts.

employees share Trader Joe's secrets


Did you know Trader Joe’s employees try ALL new products that hit the shelves? The company firmly believes in empowering all crew members to be able to answer customer questions honestly. So the next time you’re on the fence about the Unexpected Cheddar or a wedge of Italian Truffle Cheese, just ask an employee!

10. The Trader Joe’s bells are important.

No doubt you’ve been shopping and heard a few bell rings near the cash registers. Employees ring them once, twice, or three times to communicate with each other because the stores do not utilize a traditional PA system. A manager says that one ring means to open another register, two rings mean there is a checkout line question and three rings mean a manager is needed at the front of the store.

11. Trader Joe’s loves contests.

The folks at Trader’s love amping up guests, and that’s why you can always count on some sort of wacky contest happening throughout the year. From the most recent “Scent-sational Candle Contest,” and past events like the Milkshake Contest and the Corn Contest (we are serious), customers are often asked to weigh in with their opinions and ideas, for a chance to win a TJ’s gift card.  Even tiny Trader shoppers can get in on the mix, with many stores offering monthly coloring contests. Just stop by the manager’s desk when you arrive to grab a page!


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