18 Things You Should Know Before Shopping at Trader Joe’s

Everything you need to know to save money and shop smarter at the quirky Trader Joe’s supermarket chain.

The exterior of a Trader Joe's in Foxboro, Mass.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The eclectic and retail-fan-favorite Trader Joe’s is well-known to its loyalists for low prices on unique food items, ranging from cookie butter to salsas, cheeses and ready-to-eat packaged meals. The grocery store chain is also known for its quirky culture. Employees, easy to spot in their Hawaiian shirts, go out of their way to be helpful, and the stores are livened up by creative chalkboards and other decor (including plastic lobsters).

The chain was also nimble during the global health pandemic, which forced Trader Joe’s to make some changes to its day-to-day operations. Instead queing up at registers, loyal customers formed long lines outside the store to get inside, as store capacity was limited. Most TJs are back to the typical 8 a.m.-to-9 p.m. operating hours seven days a week, and in our experience, Trader Joe’s seems sufficiently staffed to move customers quickly through the checkout process. As usual, customers still appreciate the unconventional touches that help make the Trader Joe’s shopping experience stand out from a traditional grocer.

If you’ve never been inside one of Trader Joe’s 530-and-growing locations but are eager to go, here are some shopping secrets you need to know before making your first trip.

Andrea Browne Taylor
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com
Browne Taylor joined Kiplinger in 2011 and is a channel editor for Kiplinger.com covering living and family finance topics. She previously worked at the Washington Post as a Web producer in the Style section and prior to that covered the Jobs, Cars and Real Estate sections. She earned a BA in journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C.