HOW TO: Shop at Trader Joe’s

Slate has a primer on surviving Trader Joe’s madness. Just a few tips and tricks to keep in mind while you’re commodifying your dissent.

  • Adopt a Soviet Mentality. This is the first thing nearly every regular TJ’s shopper mentions: Products appear suddenly, work their way into your daily routine, and then disappear with no warning. Example: no-boil lasagna noodles. Here one day, gone for months. If you really like something, hoard it. You never know when it will vanish.
  • Best Bargain: Orchids. Every shopper I surveyed had a different best bargain, so I’ll give you mine
    beautiful, long-lasting orchids for $8. I can’t tell you how many last-minute gift fiascos these have helped me avoid.
  • The Shopping-List Guarantee. If you go to TJ’s with a shopping list for a dinner party or even a moderately complex recipe, you are guaranteed to leave the store without finding at least one item on the list. Just accept the fact that you will have to hit one or two other stores on the way home. This raises a bigger issue: TJ’s has great prices on many staples, and it’s easy to forget that its selection is tiny compared to a real supermarket. It is not a one-stop shopping solution.

Be advised, Trader Joe’s is called “TJ’s” over in its hometown of LA, so you New Yorkers better start doing that before your friends do.

Previously: Trader Joe’s Lacks Team Spirits

Related: Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from the Baffler [p]