Skip to main content

Trader Joe’s is flat-out refusing to add this crowd-favorite service all major grocery stores have

You won't be able to avoid those pesky Trader Joe's clerks any time soon

Trader Joe's store
Barry Dale Gilfry / Flickr

Bad news for us Trader Joe’s loving introverts. In the August 14th episode of the popular grocer’s podcast, Trader Joe’s CEO Bryan Palbaum and President Jon Basalone sat down to discuss their roles, the store, and, perhaps most importantly, their fierce stance against self-checkout lanes.

In a quickfire round of True or False, both men answered questions about the popular store, with a seemingly shared and fervent hatred of self-checkout stands. Upon being asked, “True or false, coming soon, self-checkout,” Palbaum replied, “Oh, that’s a false. That’s a double false.”

Basalone chimed in with, “That’s as false as false can be. Because we believe in people and we’re not trying to get rid of our crew members for efficiency’s sake, I don’t know what the reasons are people put self-checkout in.”

Well, Basalone, we know the reasons. Apart from being cost-effective and convenient for the stores that use them, self-checkout stands also make for a much more peaceful experience for the more introverted among us. Those who would like to buy their cookie butter without the total exhaustion and social battery drainage that comes from needless chit-chat with an overly peppy stranger.

Look, we get it. There is something charming about the seemingly wholesome and old-fashioned hold on tradition, and there’s no doubt TJ’s intentions are pure. On paper, the idea of keeping the shopping experience personal is lovely in all the right ways — and we absolutely support stores ensuring there are jobs for people. But what’s not being said is that refusing to evolve in this way is actually pretty dismissive of Trader Joe’s’ more introverted customers. Sure, the human connection with a friendly clerk in an age when screens have taken over the world can be warm and welcoming, a touch of fresh air. But this just isn’t the case for everyone.

We know, we know. Most people are tired of hearing the more introverted among us explain this part of ourselves. We understand that the announcement of this perceived character flaw is on par with announcing one’s veganism or stance on inflation, inviting eye rolls all around the room. But we’re just trying to explain ourselves in a world of people who refuse to see our anxieties as anything but snobbery.

For many (this writer included), the forced socialization that comes with this sort of shopping experience is tremendously draining and uncomfortable. Only in the last few years have introverts even been considered in this realm, and damn, it’s been nice. But those companies (and schools and workplaces, etc.) who have refused to cater to the more socially anxious have lost out on more business than they realize. Surely there’s space for both crew member-assisted checkout lanes that keep workers working and self-checkout lanes for the introverts (or just people who want to quickly grab their chips and hummus and go).

So while Trader Joe’s’ refusal to adopt self-checkout stands in its stores will undoubtedly be mostly seen as commendable, we’ve got to say —  that’s a false. A double false. It’s as false as false can be.

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
We paired summer beers with grilled meats and veggies — these are our fave combos
Beer and grilled foods are meant to be enjoyed together
Beer and grill

There are many reasons to look forward to the summer months. First of all, you can wear shorts and flip-flops every day. It feels like the sun is shining constantly, the days feel endless, there seem to be limitless ponds, lakes, and pools to swim in, and best of all, it’s grilling season. While we love everything about summer, it’s the latter we enjoy the most. Especially when we pair summer grilling with a nice, frosty beer (or three).

When it comes to summer beer pairing, yard games are fun, sitting on a dock with your feet in a lake is great, and downing a crisp beer after an afternoon of lawnmowing is exceptional, but nothing beats the classic, timeless grilling beer.

Read more
Find bars specializing in alcohol-free cocktails with this search engine
cherry-gin-cocktail

As more and more people are choosing to forgo alcohol, there's been a boom in thoughtfully made, delicious, non-alcoholic cocktails. Gone are the days of a couple of sad, overly sweet mocktails being tacked on to the end of a drinks list as an afterthought -- now, bartenders around the world are getting interested in the possibility of alcohol-free drinks. Whether you're doing a dry month, you're off alcohol altogether, or you just fancy trying something different, a night at a bar specializing in mocktails can be eye-opening.

But it's not always easy to find places that will suit a non-drinking crowd, which is why an alcohol-free search engine is hoping to change that. Mocktail Quest lists bars, restaurants, and shops that specialize in alcohol-free options.

Read more
Step back in time and learn how to make authentic Turkish coffee
You can have Turkish coffee any time, let us show you how
Making Turkish coffee

Turkish coffee is a concentrated, rich, and somewhat bitter drink made of unfiltered coffee. It's also one of the oldest methods of preparing coffee, dating back to 1555. Unlike a traditional cup of joe, Turkish coffee is made with super-fine grounds brewed in water versus drip style, where water is poured over coffee beans and filtered. Because of this variation, Turkish coffee is incredibly concentrated and perfect if you like your coffee or espresso strong. (Like we do.)

We went to Ciragan Palace Kempinski, a luxury hotel in Turkey that occupies a former Ottoman palace, to learn how to brew traditional Turkish coffee. Burak, the hotel's Gazebo Lounge barista, told us while coffee was discovered during the 11th century in Ethiopia, its brewing history dates back to 1555.

Read more