If you shop at Trader Joe’s with any regularity you’ve probably had a cashier comment on something you were buying. It doesn’t happen every time but I’m guessing you’ve heard “Ohhhh man, I love those” or “I’ve been meaning to try those” enough times to notice. TJ’s is famous for its friendly, smiling, and social employees but perhaps you still wondered if those comments are semi-scripted, or part of some company initiative to make us feel all warm and fuzzy. I mean, it’s not every day a stranger breaks eye contact with their tablet or smartphone to offer up real-life human interaction. So what gives?
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You wouldn’t be the only person to wonder. A Reddit user that goes by the name u/Spinningimage5 sought to get to the bottom it, posing that very question in a recent Reddit thread entitled “Does every cashier at Trader Joe’s point out something you’re purchasing and say it’s so good? Are they required to say this to everyone?”
He or she was promptly met by a slew of comments from other TJ’s shoppers wondering the same thing, as well as answers from folks claiming to be current or former employees all spilling the tea on whether or not this “habit” is required of employees, completely organic, or (as I assumed) somewhere in between.
One user claiming to be an employee named genuinegrocer—which, if I’m being honest, sounds like an executive’s CEO’s phony profile—claims workers “are not told to say anything….it just comes out naturally because most of us love the products and we’re friendly people.” While another less suspiciously-named user skaev chimed in with “nope, we just genuinely enjoy our products and are happy when customers enjoy them too! I frequently tell customers when I don’t like something.”
The 'I Love Trader Joe's' Cookbook, $11.36 on Amazon
Recipes using TJ's products for the true blue Trader Joe's cult member only.
It’s hard to believe that there isn’t some level of encouragement, if not downright instruction, from higher-ups for checkout personnel to interact with customers, but it’s true that not all cashier commentary is in praise of the products, as evidenced by user KrisPBacon0905 who claims she was buying goat cheese once when a cashier exclaimed that he “hates goat cheese because it tastes like he’s licking a goat’s nipple.”
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More evidence for it being an organic practice came in the form of comments from two other “former employees”—per one of them, workers are “constantly tasting the products so if someone is, say, buying the new chili onion crunch condiment, and I just tried it in the back…you better believe I’m going to mention how I thought it tasted.” Another user reminded us that “the crew gets a discount and probably shops there and uses the products at home.”
Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute, (pack of 3), $14.49 on Amazon
A spice mix definitely worth commenting on.
Some folks like user WhimsicalKoala didn’t really care whether the employee comments were real or fake, saying “I just love that they can chat while working! I go to most grocery stores and you can tell they are being treated like shelf-stocking robots.” While oldenuff2know said they “enjoy the chat, plus it seems like other shoppers tend to be a little kinder and gentler with each other and that’s nice, too!”
We reached out for comment on the policy from Trader Joe’s and at the time of posting had not heard back, though one user called somegummybears mentioned that Trader Joe’s had, in fact, addressed this subject briefly on their podcast to the tune of, “No, it’s not required!” Either way, Trader Joe’s continues to build a groundswell of consumer goodwill and almost cult-following with their innovative products at low prices, all served up by an uber-friendly staff, and frankly…we’re here for it.
Header image courtesy of Trader Joe's