Deal Diva

6 things you need to know about Trader Joe’s

Despite no sales, great deals can be found at Trader Joe’s.
Despite no sales, great deals can be found at Trader Joe’s. Bloomberg

Trader Joe’s, with three locations in the Charlotte market, doesn’t fit the mold of most grocery stores: It primarily offers its own brands. Here are six ways to make the most of your shopping experience there:

1. Value between the aisles. Unlike most of the Deal Diva’s shopping spots, Trader Joe’s doesn’t have sales, offer a rewards card or accept coupons (triple gasp!). But that doesn’t mean you won’t find good deals. Trader Joe’s seeks the unique and interesting, purchases them directly from suppliers and sells them under its brand name. The chain keeps operational expenses low by using smaller stores that carry about 4,000 items, versus the 50,000 at typical grocery stores.

2. Store scavenger hunt. Keep the kids happy by having them search out the stuffed animals hidden throughout the store. When they’re done, they get a prize. Fun fact: There’s always a plastic lobster.

3. Customer service at a whole new level. Want to try a product? Seek out a staff member, always wearing the Trader Joe’s Hawaiian shirt, and he/she will open a package for you to taste. The chain also offers a no-questions-asked return policy.

4. For whom the bells toll. Internal communication is done through bells. One bell and it’s time to open a new register, two bells and someone has a question, three bells means a manager is needed.

5. Get the inside scoop. Read their store newsletter by subscribing to The Fearless Flyer, available free by mail or online. Get news on products, recipes and upcoming events.

6. Best know for ... Triple Ginger Snaps, Speculoos Cookie Butter, 2-buck Chuck wine and Vintage Ale, a store brand beer that actually improves with age. A friend who’s a very loyal Trader Joe’s shopper raves about their chocolate, cheese, frozen appetizers and granola.