7 Trader Joe Secrets All Shoppers Should Know

If only we'd known #3 sooner.

Trader Joe's shopping secrets
Photo: Getty Images

It's no surprise that we're all in on anything and everything that has to do with Trader Joe's. The quirky supermarket has a cult following—fans are willing to drive hundreds of miles to the nearest store to stock up on their one-of-a-kind products, like the Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, Apple Cider Drinking Vinegar, or Truffle Marcona Almonds. Heck, even a jar of their pickled beets gives us the feels. Some pay more than double the retail price of a popular product through resellers like Amazon and eBay just so they can satisfy their cravings.

Getting the inside scoop on secret shopping tips and what really goes on behind the scenes at Trader Joe's thrills us to no end. Here's what you need to know to be the savviest TJ's shopper.

You can sample anything you want.

Would we lie to you? Never. Indeed, Trader Joe's maintains a strong "if you'd like to try, just ask" policy. Their rationale is that they'd rather you find out before you buy something whether you like it or not. So next time you're eyeing their Omega Trek Mix or their Creamy Salted Cashew Butter, just flag down a crew member to open up a bag.

The best time to shop is mid-week and off-hours.

This may sound obvious, but it's worth repeating. Those of us who've jubilantly filled a shopping cart with heaps of goodies and then noticed the line trailing outside the store know why. The worst times to go are weekends and right after work—and lunchtime can get crowded too. If you want to be super efficient, try going first thing in the morning or right before the store closes (they'll shut the doors while you shop so the line can't get any longer).

You can have your groceries carried out to your car.

This under-utilized service is available to everyone, not just disabled, pregnant, or elderly shoppers.

You can return any product.

Just like the free sample situation, Trader Joe's will give you your money back for any product you're dissatisfied with. Yes, this includes partially opened, eaten, or damaged food items—let's try not to take advantage of their generosity on this one!

The Crew knows pretty much everything.

Every staffer at Trader Joe's receives a confidential bulletin every week that tells them what new items are coming soon so they can properly prepare. They also taste everything—how else are they to give you such solid product recommendations? All crew members are trained on every job at the store, too, so they can help each other (and you!) at any time with any question.

It's one of the best places to shop for those with dietary restrictions.

TJ's was one of the first grocery giants in the U.S. to offer a wide variety of gluten-free items. Today, the store has hundreds of products for those with food allergies or dietary restrictions—and if you're unsure which work for your preferences, a Crew member will walk you through the aisles to show you which foods meet your needs.

Produce bags are compostable.

Yes, they appear to be plastic. But these bags are made from an eco-friendly alternative to plastic that's compostable. Learn about the store's other sustainability efforts here.

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