I’ve loved Trader Joe’s ever since I walked into one for the very first time. I swing by every week or two to pick up my “essentials.” (Gimme some more of that Double Rainbow chocolate sorbet, and my world wouldn’t be the same without the toasted oatmeal flakes.) I remember once while living for a time in New York City that I made a major detour on a trip upstate just so I could swing by a Trader Joe’s and stock up on meringue chews. (Now there’s a TJ’s in Chelsea.)
But for all of the time (and money) I spend there, I don’t know much about the company. You rarely read about Trader Joe’s in the news. Turns out there’s a reason for that — the privately held German company is notoriously tight-lipped.
That’s why I was so interested to read this article on Yahoo Finance that includes little-known details about this grocery-store chain that just keeps growing, including how much employees can earn (managers in the low six figures, starting full-time employees in the $40,000-$60,000 range, plus the company annually contributes 15.4% of employees’ gross income to tax-deferred retirement accounts — no wonder everyone is so friendly there), and how products get chosen for the shelves. One of the most interesting aspects of the story is how the limited number of items actually turns out to be a boon for sales:
Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. “People are worried they’ll regret the choice they made,” says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of The Paradox of Choice. “People don’t want to feel they made a mistake.” Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isn’t quite so large.
Makes sense to me. So, Beehive readers, any other Trader fans amongst you? What’s your can’t-do-without product? Or is there anyone out there who can’t stand the place?