The cost of bananas, those Hawaiian shirts and a secret tasting panel are just a few of the things that make Trader Joe’s unique
Trader Joe’s does a super job running its markets.
Grocery stores don’t tend to have cult followings — but for fan favorite Trader Joe’s, typical supermarket standards don’t apply. With 476 stores nationwide, it’s become more than a local convenience store with budget friendly buys; it’s become a way of life for some shoppers.
Most recently, the chain introduced a five-part podcast series, “Inside Trader Joe’s,” hosted by the company’s vice president of marketing Matt Sloan and marketing director Tara Miller. During each 20-minute episode, Sloan and Miller discuss products, company values, information about the stores and how they give back to those in need — all while interviewing customers, crew members and corporate employees.
“We communicate with our customers daily, from getting their feedback on their experience with our products or in our stores, to us providing them with information they need or want to know,’ Kenya Friend-Daniel, spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, told Moneyish. “‘Inside Trader Joe’s’ is an extension of that communication, and allows us to delve even deeper into what we do, how we started, our plans for the future, and of course answer the questions our customers have asked of us, in our own fun and interesting way.”
Since its debut at the beginning of the month, the podcast has received favorable feedback. “Our hope was that customers would listen, walk away better informed, and hopefully entertained and wanting to hear more,” Friend-Daniel said. And the good news for those hungry for what’s next after the fifth and final episode is that Trader Joe’s has plans to continue producing podcasts. “We have many more stories to tell, and also want to make sure we’re covering topics of importance to our customers, so we’re working on our first podcast not being our last,” said Friend-Daniel.
If you’re late to the game and haven’t tuned into the first five episodes yet, here’s some of the fun facts you can expect to learn when you listen.
The reason bananas cost 19 cents each
In the first episode, “It’s About the Products,” Chairman and CEO Dan Bane explains that after spending time in one of their stores near a retirement complex, where bananas were sold by the pound, he came across a customer who looked at the bananas and walked away. After asking her why she didn’t put any in her cart, the woman explained that she may not live long enough to consume the whole bunch of bananas — and that’s when they decided to start selling the fruit individually for 19 cents each; a price that’s remained the same for years.
There’s a top secret tasting panel that tries every product in the store
Before anything hits the shelves, the company’s tasting panel learns how each product is created, in addition to trying every single item sold. When discussing the tasting kitchen, Sloan says, “There’s nothing in there that makes it comfortable. It’s like a cold war interrogation booth, because we want the products that succeed to go through this like ultra Darwinian exercise to say that they could stand up even to that harshest light of critical evaluation.”
Trader Joe’s started as a convenience store called Pronto Markets
Founder Joe Coulombe took over a chain of convenience stores in Los Angeles in 1958, and after running them for a decade, he decided to change his business model and open the first Trader Joe’s store in 1967 in Pasadena, Calif.
Why do the crewmembers wear Hawaiian shirts?
After reading a book called “White Shadows in the South Seas” and going on Disneyland’s jungle ride, Coulombe had the idea to have his staff members wear Hawaiian shirts — and it’s something that’s stuck and become a 50-year tradition.
You can’t pay to advertise in The Fearless Flyer
It began as a means to share information about products with crewmembers in 1970, and later became a way for the company to also connect with customers. Instead of handing out circulars sharing prices and promotions, The Fearless Flyer is part newsletter, part catalog and part comic book that boasts cartoons and new items available in store. As for paid placements, Miller says, “It’s not an option. That’s just not part of how we do our business.”
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