HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


Trader Joes... Please, just ring up my groceries.

  • k

There's a new Trader Joes by my house (Queens) and I've been there 3 times now. I like their food just fine, but at the checkout, the clerks always want to give me commentary about my groceries

"Say, you really like cheese, huh?"


"I like these too! Have you tried the almond ones yet?"

About half my items get a review or a comment, and the clerk never stops talking (about my food). I'm just there to buy groceries, not to make new friends. I don't mind a little small talk but it's a little embarrassing to think that they are inspecting your food (and then want to comment on it).

I live in NYC where the clerks are often sullen and won't say thank you (even after the customer says it) so believe me, it's not that I don't appreciate friendly service. I just don't like the "play by play" Howard Cosell "What, ANOTHER bag of frozen blueberries, WOW" kind of commentary, by someone who is ringing up my groceries.

Are ALL the Trader Joes like this? (I commented about this in another TJ thread but I decided to give it it's own topic.)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For the most part, the clerks in Manhattan greet me with a smile, say "hello" and "thank you" and that's about it. I did get a chatty one once who commented on some chocolate I had bought and how he loved them and how much better the prices were at TJ, blah blah. I didn't mind it, but I think it depends on your mood and how rushed you are that particular day.

    1. The TJs I've been to around the Bay Area aren't like that at all. The checkers are usually really busy and working hard. Rarely say more than hi and bye.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Glencora

        Thank you so much, you took the words right out of my mouth. I go to the Trader Joes on 14th street and I hate how annoying the cashiers are. I always stock up on soy nuggets and the cashier always assumes that i am vegan and they comment on how cool it is. Meanwhile i like my meat rare, i just happen to like soy nuggets. God those trader joes folks are ANNOYING.

        1. re: edbk

          I consider the perkiness as the price we pay for them not being sullen.
          It's a price I'm willing to pay. I find them overall to be on the ball at TJs.
          Plus they get health insurance - sounds like it's not a bad company to work for.

          Is chatting about specific purchases actually something the management encourages them to do?

          1. re: pitu

            I think Pitu hit it on the head.
            "perkiness is the price we pay for them not being sullen".

            I used to find myself bristling at the chatty commentary. Then I moved to a town where the nearest TJ's was a 30 minute drive.

            After dealing with the sullen, hostile apathy of the standard grocery store clerks for a 6 months a TJs opened up closer.

            I was delighted to have their cheerful blathering to tune out again.

            In some things there really just is no happy medium.
            Lets face it... checking out people's groceries is a mind numbing and thankless task. If they can find a way to act like they're cheerful about it the least we can do is smile, nod, tune them out and be grateful.

      2. Eh, I am in Southern California and everyone is like that, the cashiers at Home Depot as well as Trader Joe's and other supermarkets. People out here say 'hello' and 'good morning' just in passing on the street or when opening doors. I do notice the TJ people don't talk about much other than your purchases, though.

        The best part about TJ's is that if you do engage and happen to mention something, they listen. I will say I bought something to try and they will offer to open up a bag for me and tell me if I don't like it, I don't have to buy it....and once I mentioned that I tried something and didn't like it and would not buy it again (candied hazelnuts) and the cashier called over a manager and he took that charge off my bill- no receipt, just my word that I bought it and didn't finish it.

        1. In defense of the TJs folks, I think they are as passionate about food as most chowhounds are --- and apparently, they aren't soulless checkout robots either.

          1 Reply
          1. re: vlad

            Agreed. I like that they are chatty. I do my TJ shopping on weekends, and have time to spend. They always ask if my little guy wants stickers or a balloon and make sure I was able to find everything I was looking for.

            Any of the TJs employees I've ever encountered have been cheerful, unbelievably helpful and knowledgeable. I'd rather this than the sullen checkout employee who is more interested in their phone than doing their job.

          2. I live in Westchester (the Northern burbs of NYC) and we are lucky to have 3 TJs here. Everyone has a very friendly, knowledgable staff. I always feel welcome there and don't get an attitude when asking questions/ or for help. The cashiers are a bit chatty, but I don't see that as a negative at all, quite the opposite.

            1. The cashiers at the ones on Long Island are generally chatty, too, but I don't mind. It's a nice change from my local, surly Waldbaum's checkers.

              3 Replies
              1. re: irishnyc

                Hi - I'm a TJ's employee and I can ASSURE you we don't get bonuses for upselling, or for anything else for that matter. Most of us just happen to be articulate, enthusiastic, somewhat intelligent individuals who want to help out the customers in an honest way. Not everyone can pick up on customers' cues, but I for one can usually pretty easily tell if someone doesn't want to be talked to, and I respect that. And if somebody asks me if a product is good and I don't like it, you better believe I'll tell them so, and possibly suggest something else as an alternative, but damn sure it's not because there's anything in it for me. Us small guys don't get the bonuses; it's our managers who reap all the benefits (except health insurance - at least we get that).

                1. re: tjblahblah

                  I hope this thread doesn't get you down. I think it is a very sad state when people rag on this upbeat good attitude that most people find refreshing. Keep up the good work!

                  1. re: angelo04

                    Yes, some people complain no matter what. I for one appreciate how most of the employees at TJ's are enthusiastic and enjoy their jobs, unlike so many other places these days. People who would rather have grumpy, uncommunicative clerks/helps have plenty of alternatives.

              2. Very funny observation! I grew up in Brooklyn and have lived in Charlotte for 12 years now. One of the things that struck me when I first moved down here was that cashiers were nice and smiled at you and said hello. Very unlike what you'd get in the NYC area. I was suspicious of them. I've since that gotten used to it and now enjoy going to the grocery when I'm up in NYC to be amused at the contrast. We just got two TJ's in Charlotte. I am STUNNED and FREAKED OUT by the chatty chasiers. I often wonder if they receive bonuses for upselling? What is it about them. I think it's too much.

                5 Replies
                1. re: southernitalian

                  Hey SI! I, too, am originally from up north and have lived in CLT for almost 12 yrs now. I have to say I love the chatty cashiers. My favorite Harris Teeter is @ Stonecrest and I love it b/c they call me by name, they say "hey" to my kids by name and I feel like I know them. The same is becoming true at TJ's. I miss that familiarity that I had "back home". It sure beats the obnoxious teenager snapping their gum and droning out "paper or plastic". I'm a customer service freak! :-)

                  1. re: southernitalian

                    Wow, and people think I'm surly? roflmao. I'm from NYC, still live here. I don't know where you lived, but cashiers here have gotten a lot worse since you left, IMHO. Having someone NOT act like they resent me for taking time out of their busy social lives to ring up my stuff is a pleasure, and since they're actually efficient, even the hyper-perky ones aren't so bad. I'd much rather deal with ueber-perky for 4 minutes than passive-aggressive surly for 15, any freaking day of the week...

                    The "line guiders" trying to chat me up, and the meth-freak floor clerks who take off on a mad dash - either solo or after grabbing your arm and taking you immediately to where things are when you ask a simple question do annoy me no end, on the other end. If I ask where the coffee is, all I really want is a polite "aisle 3."

                    If you're shopping at the one on 14th St in Manhattan and want your surly fix, just head to the Food Emporium or Walgreen's down the block after you shop at TJ's, that'll wipe the TJ's smile off your face faster than you can say "have a nice day yourself, xxxhole..."

                    1. re: MikeG

                      jfood once summed it up perfectly -- in the South (or in LA), a conversation might go:

                      "Excuse me, where can I find the applesauce?"
                      "It's on aisle 9, would you like me to show you?"
                      "No thanks, I can find it."

                      In New Jersey (and NYC), where we both grew up, that goes like this:


                      TJ's folks aren't any chattier here in Orange County (CA) than anyplace else you shop. People actually interact with cashiers here. Interestingly, I find the chattiest store in NYC to shop at is Zabar's -- not because the cashiers are chatty (just the opposite), but because everyone has to have an opinion about what you're buying. ("Don't get that lox, it's cheap and flaky! Here, give her the nice fresh novy, not from the end, and see you slice it thin!")

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Thanks for the plug DU and make sure you teach your little Ubergeekette the finer points of NJ-speak. Man, jfood could use a little good novey about now.

                        Happy New Years to you and yours.

                        1. re: jfood

                          I had my Zabar's fix last week. Now I'm happy to be back where there's fruits and vegetables that didn't have to be flown from Chile or Israel. Happy Newt Ear to you and yours. :)

                  2. Funny stuff. I agree that they can be over the top but for the most part it is refreshing in the long run when you go back to the same store often and it seems like they actually do care.

                    An example is when Ive asked opinions of products, and next time in they remember your name and seem actually genuine when asking what you thought of so and so. They push you to return things if youre not happy- for the most part, its pretty good to have that.

                    However, there are days when Im flat out not in the mood but luckily havent had many comments on what Ive been buying outside of "ooh, I like those too" which I can handle. Nothing like the obnoxious waiter that says... cant believe you ate the whole thing, dont think Ive ever seen that.

                    1. there are 2 trader joes in my area.
                      both of them are quite friendly.
                      but I guess it's up to worker's level of friendly-ness.

                      most of the time they don't go too personal talk.

                      but few times, older female woker went bit further.
                      when I bought few blocks of white chocolate & butter,heavy cream.

                      'oh, are you going to bake something ?'
                      'white chocolate...huh, I don't like white chocolate, I never liked'

                      I just smiled. I needed it. not for you.

                      1. Given a choice between overly chatty and being sullen and silent, I'd prefer the former.

                        I've never gotten the weird play-by-play, but most times I go it seems like the cashier will spot some trend or another in my order and offer some recommendation based on this trend. I always assumed it was something the cashiers are trained to do and is just a way for TJ's to make "offering the upsell" seem less obnoxious and pushy.

                        1. A sad commentary on our ever-evolving lack of human contact society. We text, we e-mail, we voicemail... we e-vite, blackberry and look the other way when someone is approaching us on the street.

                          My sister works at TJ's (usually the sample counter) and her upbeat attitude is not a result of training or corporate planning. TJ's makes it a point to hire friendly people.

                          "I like these too! Have you tried the almond ones yet?" If it was a product I already enjoy, then I'd like other options pointed out to me. Maybe being a so cal native, I'm used to friendly people. Good day.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Oh Robin

                            "A sad commentary on our ever-evolving lack of human contact society. We text, we e-mail, we voicemail... we e-vite, blackberry and look the other way when someone is approaching us on the street."

                            So true! There are 5 TJ's within a 10+/- mile distance from me. To a person, all working in these stores are friendly, helpful, non-judgemental, albeit sometimes chatty. But, all this makes for a pleasant shopping experience, and the inclination to return.

                            1. re: Gio

                              ...and herein lies one of the differences between left and right coasts, I think. I shop at the Eagle Rock, CA TJ's, and the chattiness is pretty commonplace...between both clerk and customer. and while sometimes I'm raggy and don't particularly wanna chat, by and large I'm really glad of it. there's plenty of bare minimum clerks everywhere else, so I enjoy the difference.

                              1. re: annagranfors

                                I don't think it's a left/right coast thing. I have lived in VA and NC all of my life and am friendly, chatty, etc. as are many southerners. But when I've gone to NYC or Boston and ask the bartender how his/her day is going, they look at me like I have two heads.

                              2. re: Gio

                                I'm a regular shopper at the 14th street store in NY and I appreciate the friendly staff. Initially I was taken back by the chattiness and some of the commentary, but now I find it really fun. Last week I had a great conversation about the frozen organic veggie pizza I was purchasing.

                            2. The ones around here are quite chatty, but I consider it to be staff who are friendly and passionate about what they do... the kind of people I wish I encountered in the service industry every day. My favorite time this happened at TJ's was when they got one of their occasional deals on Ben & Jerry's, this time quarts for $3.99. She rang it up, saw the price on it, and her eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. I think from that point forward EVERYONE in the line found out about the deal. The customers at TJ's around here are usually pretty friendly too, and occasionally someone will strike up a conversation about something you just HAVE to try.

                              Just be glad the checkers at the grocery store don't do the same thing with hygiene products.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                I agree: the people at TJ's are just passionate about what they do. They love the products, they want you to love the products, and they want to know why you're buying the products so they can try them and/or suggest them to other customers.

                                No way they get bonuses for upselling -- they're more likely (as someone described above) to let you try the product without buying it or give you a refund on something you didn't like. I've also had the experience of having the clerk refund me for something I just happened to mention had been bad -- no return, no receipt, just "the last carton of cottage cheese I bought was spoiled" and she immediately took it off my bill.

                                If you really don't want to talk to them, just ignore them or don't make eye contact with them.

                              2. I really like the friendly staff at the Scarsdale/ Eastchester NY location. Our favorite checkout lady is super chatty, points out the new products, asks after my friend's mom when she's not with us, and gives me a balloon with a long string for my cat. The sample chef-man greets me with 'Hola, chica!' every week. I find it all a very nice break from the staff at ShopRite, for example, who would sooner hit me with a huge trolley full of boxes than say hello.

                                1. The checkout clerks tend to talk to me at my trader joe's. I believe the term I would use to describe them is "friendly." I always bag my own groceries and they always thank me for doing so. I consider people who work at grocery stores to be people, just like me, so I don't shudder when they speak to me.

                                  1. IMHO, this is just silly. Lighten up. I Love TJ's, no complaints here. Seems to me people are all too often looking to complain about something. Whoopee, big deal the cashier is offering unsolicited commentary. Would you prefer that they be rude? Cut them some slack and lighten up.

                                    1. I'm southern, so I'm quite used to chatty. My only gripe with TJ is often the cashiers won't talk & scan at the same time. Multi-task! Friendly & efficient at the same time is good. Friendly to the point of slowing down the line - no!

                                      1. I used to work for a small local grocery store chain as a teen. They had a rule in the books that stated that the baggers could not talk to the cashiers in the presence of the customer, or get "chatty" with the customer (unless it was directly related to work-and only if it was very important). This was a ridiculous rule, which annoys me to this day. In fact, I always get the bagger and the cashier involved in conversation when I go now, because I used to find it tortureous to not be allowed to talk. It was like working for the gestapo. That's why I find it refreshing to talk to the cashiers at TJ's. They are friendly, can be very helpful, and are pretty well-informed foodies (at least in my area).

                                        1. The TJ's in Chicago & Suburbs are very nice. Always smiling, and very helpful despite, what can be, sometimes a crotchety crowd. My friends who work at the TJ's on Grace in Chicago often comment on the loons that shop there. Can I get a witness - oh, man, that is the elitist Trader Joe's! My friend said they kind of have a "rally" before their shift, so they are pumped to work. I think that's nice, darn it. People should want to work at their jobs.

                                          Now I am in KC, and I miss TJ's for some of their frozen items and soups!

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: stellamystar

                                            Or, you could look at it from the "loony" shoppers' perspective that all those poseur, hipster kids working as cashiers are indoctrinated to view anyone over 30 as "elitist."

                                            Moving on...sure there are genuinely friendly people working at TJ's and I respond to conviviality in virtually any social milieu(if someone smiles at me I'll probably smile back ;)...however, the whole "running commentary" as you checkout thing is sooooo obviously some bizarre, cultish directive out of Satan's indie-store training manual. No, sorry I don't feel bonded to you or your store because you just so happen to really dig my canned soup..."and since you like this one...you should REALLY try that one!"

                                            Of course, implicit in my irritation is that I already know what's on the shelves(the stores aren't that big)

                                            1. re: aelph

                                              Wow - Satanish indie-store training? eek! Sounds scary

                                              1. re: stellamystar

                                                Does this mean that if we don't shop at Safeway or Albertson's or Giant or Harris Teeter (I've lived a lot on both Coasts) that we're doing the work of the devil?

                                                Sheesh, who knew?

                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                  You both realize I'm being sarcastic re: Satan's indie-store training manual, right?

                                                  1. re: aelph

                                                    I do, yeah. I was trying to hop on the sarcasm bandwagon as I think it's the one possible redeeming quality for this thread which otherwise just makes me shake my head in despair.

                                              2. re: aelph

                                                Well, at the TJ's on Grace in Chicago, a lot of the "loony" shoppers are probably poseurs and/or hipsters. The TJ's shares a building with a CB2. It doesn't get more hipster than that.

                                                In my experience, the clerks are usually the middle aged ones in that store.

                                                1. re: aelph

                                                  i'm sorry to have to say this, but you sound kinda grouchy.

                                              3. The 'chattiness' at TJ has been pretty consistent from store to store in L.A., in my experience. I know someone said that TJ just happens to hire friendly people, but I'd be very surprised if this isn't part of their corporate training. Like they're instructed to comment on at least one item per customer. It certainly seems that way.

                                                (I don't really like it)

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: mehfactor

                                                  I think they may be told to interact with the customer in some way while ringing up. Far more, I have been asked if I am getting all of my errands done or what my plans are for the day (I try to go when they open at 8 a.m.). They have commented on the weather or fires lately. Not always at all on what I buy, unless it is something new.

                                                  1. re: mehfactor


                                                    I heard a TJ advertisement on the radio this week which immediately made me think of this thread: the basis of the ad was that unlike the big mainstream grocery stores, TJ checkers are passionate about food and therefore will talk to you about their favorite items, recipes, what goes with what, etc.

                                                    I had to smile when I heard the ad, because like the OP, I am not fond of chatty checkers: just ring up my groceries quickly and efficiently and pay attention while bagging so you don't squash things, that is all I need.

                                                    So yes, I think it is corporate training, and a cultivated image, and one they think sells groceries.

                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                      Wow. TJ's in Charlotte has no need for advertising. Both locations are so packed. I'd love to hear the ad though.

                                                      1. re: southernitalian

                                                        It is very subtle advertising; when they first came to San Diego there were small one inch tall in a column ads in te lcoal newspaper, surrounded with a dark black border...and still there are radio ads which seem to be on talk radio and are short (30-45 seconds), always ending with "thanks for listening"

                                                        1. re: Cathy

                                                          not sure what you mean by subtle, and maybe it was because I noticed it more due to this thread, but the ad I heard (not on talk radio, which I never listen to, it was on a local rock station) didn't seem that subtle: it was fairly long, and specifically focused on how the checkers will actually talk to you....

                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                            Oh, no...short and talking about (ex) 'at Trader Joe's, you can buy papardelle pasta in a one lb package for $1.99 and top it with the vodka marinara for $2.49 and serve with X Chianti for $8.99 a bottle, and some par baked ciabatta for $2.39 makes for a quick, warm, inexpensive meal at home. Thanks for listening!

                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                              I find their advertising relatively pleasant -- kind of folksy but not in a talking down kind of way. It really comes across more as enthusiasm for the product(s) then trying to sell you something for the sake of selling you something.

                                                  2. The TJs in DC and northern VA have friendly clerks but i don't remember them being overly personal about my selections....except one time when i said i was buying cheese to match the wine i had bought a few doors over at a fabulous wine store. The clerk was like "oh, don't you like our wine??" and so i was honest: "Sorry, no offense but 2 buck chuck is NOT my idea of a transcendent wine experience!" She just laughed. I always figure if they chat a little it's because we kind of ARE in the south....well kind of...

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: DCDOLL

                                                      The first time I went to a 7-11 in Manassas I was greeted when I walked in the door. I don't recall every getting greeted in a 7-11 on Long Island ;o)

                                                      I went to TJ's in Centreville a while back and had a dim bulb checking me out. I was buying Voss water in bottles and asked her to please only put 4 bottles per bag because I can't carry them with more than 4). So she says, well, I can double bag them so that we can save some bags.

                                                      I just let my look say it all while she played that statement back in her head.

                                                      1. re: Manassas64

                                                        Hang on to your hat when you go into a Quick Time- they're downright friendly.

                                                        1. re: Manassas64

                                                          Oh, funny. I used to work at a 7-Eleven in Manassas Park in the 90's. We were supposed to be friendly, and greet people when they came in the door, partly as a theft deterrent. I mean if you ignore someone, they might think you don't know they are there. But I would joke around with customers at times, because it was a little break from everything else.

                                                      2. I love all 3 TJs that I go to in LA,CA. Depending on which side of town I'm on, I'll go to a different one...when I've been away from one too long, they notice...even the parking lot guy will say: "hello bella! It has been a long time since I've seen you. Have you been well?"
                                                        They are like that with everyone who is pleasant and will smile or make eye contact with them.
                                                        There is one fellow who had helped me with some mone one day who now keeps me posted on some great wine tasting events in Santa Barbara and Los Olivos.
                                                        Another TJ I go to, after dance classes has some funny guys...they'll notice when I'm super-sweaty and say "aren't you going to get your chocolate today, it looks like you've earned it.." because a couple of times I've gone through the line, paid and then came back because, yes, I forgot my chocolately treat...so now they remind me and I am glad! They are not trying to "up sell " they are just trying to keep me from running all the way back to the store to get it-cuz I've doen that several times.
                                                        I loe my friendly TJ cashiers!

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                          Oh. You just reminded me. Yes.

                                                          3 years ago, I was walking through the La Jolla Store, and looking at Chianti and put it in my cart and a nice young man (who worked there) walked up, said he saw me looking at the Chianti and that this other one, which was a dollar more, tasted better. I said I was making an Italian meal, and since it was my birthday, I could afford the extra dollar.

                                                          I continued my shopping and he brought me a small bouquet from the flower section, told me to tell the cashier that it was a gift from Eric and that it was paid for. I went to pay and told the cashier and she wished me a happy birthday also.

                                                          It was so unexpected. and so nice. I love TJs

                                                          1. re: Cathy

                                                            I love that story.
                                                            I've been to the TJ in UTC La Jolla and even though it is small, they are so nice down there too.
                                                            How was the wine?

                                                            1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                              It was really good and did not contain sulfites. It actually convinced me to seek out non-sulfite-ed wines (mostly organics) and, of course, is not at TJs any more...but I still love a good Chianti, no matter the sulfite content and try a new label each time I buy some.

                                                        2. I am constantly amazed by people who want people to be their interface to a purchase, i.e server, cashier but who complain then they act like people. Is that a Duh?

                                                          I have found that folks know more/different/other than I know. SO when someone says "have you tried, X?" when they see me looking at/purchasing X I listen. I do not want to break new snow for each thing I learn. Then again I do comment on likes and dislike myself.

                                                          But then I do like to make new friends, no matter where. I DO hate scripts. i was in NYC for a year and I loved that a person spoke to me as a person in a store..i.e. as in "I see you in the park!"

                                                          ya know sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and comments are just that. Plain old interest.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Quine

                                                            Basically, what the world needs now is a little more patience and forbearance.

                                                          2. I really hate to say it (I was born and raised in New York City.... thru high school anyway) but my initial reaction was "typical New York reaction". That's not to say, of course, that friendliness can't be overdone. But a little interaction with the cashier is pleasant and very typical of TJ's here in SoCal. There are days when I'm in a hurry or it's been a difficult day, and I'm just not into the conversation, but on the whole it's refreshing.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                              I'm also a New Yorker (born and bred). I generally go to the Trader Joes on 14th Street in NYC and have been to several in California as well. I do find it refreshing, especially since I've been ignored so many times by some of the Whole Foods cashiers when I say hello to them at the register.

                                                            2. I've read every post in this thread & have to say . . . Ya'll are a trip!
                                                              Trader Joes title caught my attention & why I bothered to look in the first place, as we have NO Trader Joes! We would love to have one in New Orleans!

                                                              That said, we all talk to each other in the grocery store, here in New Orleans. We often stop other customers too & ask them how they are preparing something we see in their basket, etc. Cashiers, stock clerks, other customers - we all intermingle. And we love it! It really can be a rich experience if you allow it to happen.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Isabella

                                                                Isabella, you are so right. My thought was, "Good grief, at least they HAVE a Trader Joe's."

                                                              2. My experience has been that it depends on the cashier--some are chatty, some are just pleasant. I've never gotten remarks about the food other than "have you bought that before--it's amazing" or "if you like that product x, you'll probably like product y", but it doesn't seem like upselling, more like they really like to share their knowledge (like us on these boards).

                                                                1. That's why I love self-checkout! Must be a reigional thing. I'm a NY native now living in TX. Don't get me wrong, I'm friendly, will smile, say hello and thank you but I don't want anybody commenting on my food either!

                                                                  They are the same way at the Potbelly sandwich chain; "how's your day going?" good. "What do you do?" i'm in waste management. I find that making up crazy stuff works for me. It's harmless fun.

                                                                  1. There's one really useful aspect of the TJ's chatter: I find that most times they'll ask you if you found everything you were looking for, and if the answer is no (which is practically inevitable, given how TJ's stock work--especially in Boston), they generally make an effort to find out when they might be getting it, or if it was discontinued. At least in my local branch, they tend to scale it appropriately depending on busy-ness, so it doesn't hold things up too much if they're quite crowded. And when favorite things get discontinued, they're often consolingly sympathetic. (Then again, I'd like it even better if things weren't out of stock or discontinued so often!)

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: another_adam

                                                                      I think 99% of the time I don't mind the TJ chatter. I originate from a land (tokyo) where checkers are not sullen but upbeat and professional. meaning they don't engage in ANY chatter but all cashiers are friendly and say welcome and crap like that but never ask personal questions. it's efficent and lines sure go faster in japan. it's nice BUT the 1% when i do mind is the guy at my TJs in pasadena who asks just about everyone what they do for a living. and when you give him a vague answer he'll prod for details. i've heard him ask all his customers and i can tell some really get annoyed by him. i've been out of work now for close to 3 months and i just dont want to announce to the entire check out line that i'm out of work and feel like a loser. i just avoid his lines from now but i think he's an isolated case. most of them keep it general which is fine.

                                                                      1. re: trolley

                                                                        But Trolley! Just think . . . what if you told him your profession & that you are out of work for 3 months . . . and his Brother in Law owns a biz that is hiring & is the same type of work you do? Think about it! There is no shame in being unemployed, it happens to the best of us! You may be closing down opportunities without even realizing it!

                                                                        I so wish we had a TJ's in N.O. Are they a franchise or all stores company owned? We only have Whole Food.

                                                                        1. re: Isabella

                                                                          All TJ's stores are company owned. People who've never seen one might be a little surprised: they're small and they don't carry full product lines of most things (although their selection of dairy products is quite good, and their dried fruits and nuts are exceptional). I always think of their fresh foods (produce, meat, bread) as mostly a convenience, as I can get better elsewhere. But for their shelf goods, what they do carry is a very high proportion of stuff you might want: things that are fun, or interesting, or convenient, at better quality and/or lower prices than the average supermarket. They are in no way a Whole Foods equivalent (which leads a lot of people to be very disappointed when they finally visit one after all the "hype").

                                                                          I hardly ever shop at "regular" supermarkets -- I shop at TJ's, farmer's markets, "ethnic" groceries and my local "natural grocery" -- and when I do I'm always surprised (and depressed) at just how much dreck there is: aisles and aisles of products I would never buy. At TJ's, almost everything is appealing, and if I don't like it, I can bring it back for a full refund, no questions asked (except maybe "why didn't you like it?" because they do respond to customer opinions about their products).

                                                                          1. re: Isabella

                                                                            i know, i know isabella. you're probably right and i should be more open about it. i was at first but after three months it's become harder especially since this is my first time being unemployed for this long. i wish the check out guys story was your scenario but it's not. i've heard his story over and over. he used to work in entertainment at disney but he was out of work so he ended up at trader joes...his nosey work questions are his platform to segue into his shpiel. as mentioned everyone else there is chatty but not too personal which is just fine and pleasant.

                                                                            1. re: trolley

                                                                              Tell them you're in waste management, man! Hang in there, I was out for 8 mos. when we moved to Texas. I was high strung too at the time but now I wished that I enjoyed the time off a bit more.

                                                                      2. This morning when my friend and I were in Trader Joe's, one staff member rolled past with some stock boxes and said "HEY! LADIES! You haven't been here in a while! Where've you been?" When we got to the checkout, our favorite cashier said she's going on a long vacation and needed to give us hugs before we left since we won't see her for so long. I immediately thought of this thread and wondered what some of the posters would think of that..

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: marmite

                                                                          I think it's wonderful.

                                                                          2 nights ago, I had a little "experience" with a jar of marinara sauce...it ruined my whole dinner...you know, those non-chewable onion skins? Well, they were throughout the whole jar but I didn't notice it until I had already made my dinner...added a whole bag of baby spinach, crimini mushroom, 1/2 a wedge of parmesan, and boiled my spinach and chive noodles...my dinner was ruined so I called and told them about the jar...
                                                                          The guy on the phone was so understandin and said, please come in and I'll be happy to give you a refund. I asked him If I should bring in the jar and that I'd bring the sauce but that I had loaded it up with all the goodies (I told him what I had added).
                                                                          When I came to the store, he refunded me for EVERYTHING that I had mentioned and I didn't even bring my receipt with me...he never asked for it, and he was sweet and apologetic.
                                                                          TJ people are nice and it's a good thing.

                                                                          1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                                            That question "Did you find everything OK?" during the checkout process irks me at times. Im my regular grocery store, a busy place and usually with people behind me, they ask this question and then when I tell them I couldnt find something (one day it was oven cleaner) they tried to send the sacker back into the store to find it for me. A thoughtful gesture, Im sure, but to the people behind me, who were then forced to wait while sackerboy looked for the oven cleaner, I dont think this generated a whole lot of good will. If the staff is going to ask this, it really should be as I approach the cash register, while I can still go back and find it if I want it (whatever it is).

                                                                            Im looking forward to getting TJs here in Texas someday. I read about it here in Chow all the time, but have never visited one of their stores. Houston (where I live) is quite saturated with grocery options, however, so they may not see this as a viable market for them. But I love the idea of friendly cashiers, although I really dont want too many comments about how much wine I buy! LOL

                                                                            1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                              Trust me. Houston doesn't need a Trader Joe's. Houston's been ground zero for flagship, amazing grocery stores since the early 80's(at least). I grew up there and consequently virtually every other American city's markets come up far, far short. I remember when Whole Foods was a stinky hippy, vitamin-reeking joint on Alabama(and look at 'em now).

                                                                              1. re: aelph

                                                                                Oh aelph, sure we need a Trader Joe's. It's one of the few things I miss about my years in exile in California. Yes, you can wander the vast aisles at Whole Paycheck and eventually find most or all of the stuff you would have found at TJ's, but TJ's is more fun.

                                                                                1. re: zorra

                                                                                  I was just using Whole Foods as an example of how entrenched *better than Safeway* :) supermarkets are in Houston. Regardless, of where I'm at, I tend to avoid them(WF's). I was actually more in mind of the other chain whose name escapes me at the moment; City Market, or something? Regardless, I've always considered Houston, comparatively, to have a great generalized supermarket "culture." So I'm not sure where Trader Joe's would fit in other than the novelty factor.

                                                                                  1. re: aelph

                                                                                    Aelph, you are probably thinking of Central Market, an upscale "gourmet" version of HEB (owned by them). They have several locations in Texas, with its flagship store in Austin. The food is wonderful and everyone who works there considered themselves a "foodie" (its even embroidered on their aprons). You can chat with any of the associates wandering the store and get good suggestions on what to cook with what you're buying. The cashiers are, for the most part, friendly too, but the younger ones can occasionally be sullen and quiet as they near the end of their shift. I'd like to have a Trader Joe's here just for the contrast. I agree that we have a lot of good stores in Houston, but all the more reason to improve them by adding a little more competition. I can get cheap bananas at Fiesta, but have to dodge entire families to get through the store (does is really require 6 people to buy a 12-pack of Pepsi?)

                                                                                    Yes, Whole Foods has certainly grown up from the hairy-armpit-and-nosering days, but their prices are still plenty high. There's nothing at WF that I can't get at Central Market, except perhaps their house brand grapefruit shampoo and body wash, of which I am a big fan. WF is still pretty "crunchy" around here (I can only imagine what its like in Manhattan.... oy!)

                                                                                    1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                      thanks for the explication

                                                                                      I've traveled the Texas diaspora for nigh on 18 years, but sometimes get back to visit my entrenched relatives and am still impressed with Houston's supermarkets.

                                                                                      As nonplussed as I am with TJ's in general(tho' I do like the rapid turnover of new items...while lamenting the vanishing of favorites)...you're right that there's always room for competition.

                                                                              2. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                I used to work for an upscale grocery chain, and we were trained to ask "did you find everything ok?" to every customer who came through our checkout line. We had to ask it, but sometimes checkers would forget and ask at the very end of the transaction just because they just remembered that they hadn't asked yet. Another occasional occurrence would be checkers asking customers twice, because it had become such a part of the shtick that they wouldn't be able to remember if they had asked or not at the beginning of the transaction.

                                                                                1. re: Humbucker

                                                                                  "it had become such a part of the shtick"

                                                                                  Just out of curiosity, since you mention, what were you supposed to say if they say no? When I've been asked this occasionally my internal reaction is "kinda late to be asking that, isn't it, I'm not about to go back and start digging around now that the floor clerks couldn't help and I've finally made it to the register!"

                                                                                  I always make polite noises of some sort, treating it as a throwaway line, but I am curious if there's supposed to be a stock answer other than "oh, I'm sorry to hear that" ?

                                                                                  1. re: MikeG

                                                                                    I've said "no" at Trader Joe's, and sometimes they send someone to go look for me, either on the shelf or in back. Or they'll tell me when they expect it to be back in stock, or (unfortunately) if it's discontinued.

                                                                                    I think that's a difference between Trader Joe's and other markets -- the patter isn't just "shtick" -- they actually want to know, did you find everything, did you like what you bought, have you tried the new products, etc.

                                                                          2. I'm from California but have lived in New York long enough to find Trader Joe's-style chattiness grating.

                                                                            An aside: Those of you outside of New York may not know that the wine store has to be separate here because it's against the law to sell wine in a food store. I don't know how many other states have that law. And the oddest TJ's experience I had was at the wine store in Union Square, where the perky clerk was an ultra-Orthodox Jewish guy who couldn't touch my hand to give me my change because I'm female. He had the same cheery demeanor along with a little plastic device he used to place my change into my hand.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                              I'm surprised he was working there!

                                                                            2. I wouldn't mind the chattiness of the staff/clerks if my usual TJ's (Union Square) was a more pleasant shopping experience. It's not through any fault of the staff, but the place is always a cluster_ and after spending a half hour climbing over people and another half hour waiting on line, I just want to get the heck out of there.

                                                                              I wouldn't even mind so much if they ever talked to me about my food. Maybe it's because I'm usually close to their age (mid 20s) but they're always asking me what I do for a living and where I live (Brooklyn, I have an hour commute ahead of me so please put my peppermint bark in the bag!) and what my plans are for the weekend...and it's honestly none of their business. Not to be mean, but my relationship with them should only last as long as it takes to check out in a busy place like that. They're not my hairdresser.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: indiemaven

                                                                                I'll say a similar thing to you, indiemaven, that I said to a previous poster. If you're going to complain about how long you have to wait in line, it would really speed things up if you bagged your own groceries. TJ's clerks have to take all the stuff OUT of the carts for you - instead of just standing there watching them do everything, grab a bag and put the peppermint bark into it yourself. It's a win-win.

                                                                                1. re: cyclecat

                                                                                  Do you two (lifeasbing and cylclecat) realize that you are responding to posts that were made over 3 1/2 years ago?

                                                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                    Yep, I do. These folks probably don't even shop at TJ's anymore. I was alerted to this thread's revitalization today in my inbox...

                                                                                2. re: indiemaven

                                                                                  sounds like you'd be happier shopping elsewhere

                                                                                3. Newest incident relating to this thread.

                                                                                  First of all, these checkout people have the memory of freaking photographic elephants. I was there 3 days ago and bought several bags of dried apple crispts (which by the way are freaking delicious). Went back today and bought 5 more bags. The reaction was:

                                                                                  "Wow, you ate all those already, looks like you really are into them"

                                                                                  Ive defended the friendliness of these cats, but that wasnt necessary, was it?

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                    I've defended them, too, but someone needs to tell them that commenting on how much or how fast people eat is rude. For all s/he knows, the buyer gave them away. Basically, I think it's okay to comment on the food, but not on the behavior. "Those are great, have you tried the almond ones" is fine (by me) , but comments like "you really like cheese" are getting a little personal.

                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                      True enough, there is a fine line. So far I haven't experienced anyone crossing it, but commenting on quantities or how quickly you bought more is enough over that it would bother me.

                                                                                    2. re: yankeefan

                                                                                      No, of course not. To be prepared for such moments,practice a withering half-smile combined with a subtle eye roll at home in front of the mirror until you get it exactly right. If done properly, and without any verbal comment, it'll silence most people, other than the most extremely socially clueless.

                                                                                    3. While I usually prefer the efficiency of a low-chat transaction, I have learned a lot from the TJ staff during the "play-by-play". In San Mateo, maybe 2-3 of my items warrant a comment. It reminds me to ask if the lite coconut milk will ever return... and I usually do like the almond version (of anything!).

                                                                                      1. Hey, OP, here's a thought...Either don't shop at Trader Joe's, or buy yourself some 'soft foam' ear plugs and shove 'em in your ear canal and pretend your deaf!

                                                                                        I like the fact that Trader Joe's employees are friendly and courteous and comment on my purchases and ask if I've tried simillar or like products that I'm buying. I guess it's different back East. But out here on the West Coast I've found it's just the opposite. That Trader Joe's shoppers here like it when TJ's employees show and interest and are friendly and ask about their purchases and make suggestions.

                                                                                        1. I go to the NYC TJ's on 14th street and like almost all of the cashiers there... Once in a while I'll get an annoying chatterbox, but I can deal with it for the two minutes of checkout. I find that the prepared food can be uneven, so I like to know others' opinions anyhow ("ooh, I love the almond bark, have you tried the chocolate covered pretzels?") since I'm not planning to try every product in the store.

                                                                                          Oddly enough, the employees at the TJ's I used to go to in Northern CA (Emeryville) were much less friendly and helpful, seemed kind of like disgruntled grad students getting through their day. I'll take the sunshiney New Yorkers... Did I just say that?

                                                                                          1. Oh my gosh - there are no words to describe it really. My last cashier went so far as to ask me to let him know how the frozen foods i was buying turned out...he wanted me to come find him or leave him a note or something the next time I shopped. Do they tell them to do that on purpose? I think they're trying to keep TJ feeling like a smalltown thing

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: foodmusic

                                                                                              That's a perfectly reasonable question, in my opinion. If the cashier hadn't tried that item, and you're something of a regular, I think it's downright neighborly to want to know if it turned out well. That is, if you don't mind people being neighborly.

                                                                                            2. I've been shopping at Trader Joe's since there were only a few stores in the Pasadena area. There is no better staff at any food retail chain, at least not in my experience. Those questions a clerk may ask about what you've bought could help them answer the next person who buys the same thing and wants to know about the product. I have asked TJ workers many times if they have tried something I'm buying to get a personal opinion.

                                                                                              One person's annoying cashier is another's friendly, engaged communicator. When I shop at TJs and want to talk to a chatty clerk, it's good and when I don't want that and make that clear, they respect that, too.

                                                                                              15 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: TJsFinest

                                                                                                Awhile back, there was a "sour apple" customer in front of me at TJs...the clerk tried being friendly, then backed off, was still quite polite, but the customer continued to huff and puff. When he was gone and I was next, I just said "someone must be having a bad day, huh?" and the poor clerk gave me a giant smile. Made my day. You never know what the sour apple was facing, but doesn't make it right to dump it on an innocent check out guy.

                                                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                                                  God forbid people should assume that the person standing right in front of them might be open to conversing.

                                                                                                  1. re: AnneMarieDear

                                                                                                    Not sure if you're implying that I didn't try to engage the Sour Apple, but I smiled, said hello, and he turned stonily away. Is that what you meant? Gave it the good ole' college try, but no go. Again, maybe he just got a terrible medical diagnosis that morning, who knows, but how we handle things is very telling.

                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                      pine time, I'm about 100 percent sure that AMD was being sarcastic.

                                                                                                      1. re: cyclecat

                                                                                                        Okay. Nuances are hard to discern on the web. Got it.

                                                                                                      2. re: pine time

                                                                                                        Whoops, sorry! cyclecat has my number, I was being sarcastic. And you're right, that's not always a good idea online!

                                                                                                        1. re: AnneMarieDear

                                                                                                          Heh heh, AMD. It takes one to know one! Thanks for your input and for trying to keep it light.

                                                                                                    2. re: pine time

                                                                                                      Yeah, and judging by the people I've worked with through the years, this is how (most of us) we like to think of people. There's a song by a band called Everlast called "What Its Like" that adresses this issue, and taking Sociology in college, I learned about Empathic Intelligence. Basically we as humans are very bad at looking at things in prospective of other people. Those who can truly put themselves in other peoples shoes can go a long way :) If I were to let myself be affected by the few but consistent rude people I deal with everyday, I would be miserable. Instead, I like to remind myself of points in my life during hard times when I might have reacted identical. Either way, I'm glad you appreciate the hard work we put in for a good customer experience and I try not to bother myself with those that don't understand life is tough for all of us at times. Also, sounds like you got a wise cashier and finding wise people in life is rare :) Cheers and I'm glad i brought this old topic to life. Thanks again for your input.

                                                                                                      1. re: TJsFinest

                                                                                                        Hey, other than posting on CH, I'm a psychotherapist, but in my own life, I've been the Sour Apple more times than I want to remember, including shopping when both parents were dying and just couldn't "get" other people's happiness. So, we all live and learn and hopefully apply what we've learned!

                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                          I was the sour apple the other day. The checkout guy wanted to know in considerable detail how my weekend was going. I told him I'd gone to visiting day at my daughter's summer camp and he wanted to have a whole long disccussion about the merits of summer camp. I just wanted to get my groceries and go, but I was trying not to be openly rude. I usually appreciate the TJ friendliness but sometimes it's a bit much.

                                                                                                          1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                                                            I detest being asked what I'm 'doing this weekend' or for the rest of my day, or some such nonsense, unless it's in the context of what we're already conversing about, because I know that they truly don't care. Talking about the food, though - that's another thing, and that seems sincere.

                                                                                                            1. re: cyclecat

                                                                                                              This is why I like the self check out line :D

                                                                                                              1. re: Manassas64

                                                                                                                I always use the self-checkout at my grocery store. There are 6 self-checkout kiosks, but a cashier is always on hand to help out with items that won't scan, codes or coupons. One of the regular cashiers on duty is really chatty, but she is not interested in customers at all. She only wants to talk endlessly about what's going on in her life, and tells her stories in a way that demands responses from me, which can be awkward when the stories are a) personal, b) boring, or c) odd. She is a nice person, but I never asked for a single detail of her life. I don't mind (in theory) that she wants to chat, but I think it's kind of tacky that she never inquires about me, not that I necessarily even want to talk about my life. One more annoying quirk of hers is that she occasionally comments on my groceries. I try not to feel "on the spot", but at the same time, I think her commentary borders on passing judgement. For example, I once bought a few ready-made baked items, and she made some comment to the effect that I was too lazy to bake my own goodies. She was smiling in a wink-wink kind of way, but I still bristled at what seemed like an accusation. Hey, I just grabbed those items because I was having a junk food craving. I didn't really want to share that with others. I sure as hell wasn't looking to bake something from scratch just to satisfy a sweets craving I was having at that very moment. It made me very angry that she had said anything at all.

                                                                                                                There's another cashier that has occasionally commented when I buy whole fish or seafood that she "can't do fish" at all. Pardon? Why do I care what the cashier eats or doesn't eat? She also occasionally asks what I'm going to do with the oddball produce I'm buying. I don't get annoyed at that, because she genuinely wants to know how to use said ingredients. It's a huge pet peeve, though, when I get a remark from a cashier along the lines of: that's a heck of a lot of butter you've got there! What could you possibly want with all that?" MYOFB is what is going through my head, though I occasionally invent a bizarre answer to amuse them, such as: I'm practicing my butter sculpting technique. That usually shuts them up.

                                                                                                                The absolute worst was when a cashier picked up some imported cheese from my bag, looked at the price, and was aghast. "$12 for a wedge of cheese?" It made me furious, because I had already come to terms with the price and decided to make the purchase. I WILL NOT feel embarrassed by my choices at the grocery store, no matter how decadent, frivolous or creepy the items are. What if I had been purchasing aerosol whipped cream, condoms, hot pepper jelly and a giant coil of salami? Imagine what the cashier would be thinking then. Would she be able to keep her mouth shut or would she just HAVE TO comment on the freaky combination of basket items I had?

                                                                                                                I'm all for friendly greetings, a few surface niceties and maybe a bit more if you know the cashier, but full conversations are inappropriate when other customers might need help from the cashier too. However, comments or probing questions about what customers are buying are not appropriate in my opinion, unless the customer invites such conversation.

                                                                                                                1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                  "What if I had been purchasing aerosol whipped cream, condoms, hot pepper jelly and a giant coil of salami? Imagine what the cashier would be thinking then. Would she be able to keep her mouth shut ..." Doubled over laughing more likely!

                                                                                                                  1. re: OCEllen

                                                                                                                    You do that in front of me, and I wanna be your friend!

                                                                                                  2. I do think that TJ's is like this, and I'm glad of it. People working there seem to genuinelt care about food and their customers. I find it refreshing.

                                                                                                    1. You know, if you don't want human contact and conversation (as if the store clerks were, as others have noted, HUMAN BEINGS), there are plenty of places you can go and successfully avoid it. Kind of falls under the heading of "if you don't like it, don't do it / don't go there."

                                                                                                      Thank you, TJ's staff, for making shopping a pleasant experience. Many of us appreciate you very much.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                        Absolutely right.
                                                                                                        I only just stumbled into this thread and was left incredulous by the original post.

                                                                                                        All I can say is, if _that's_ what living in Manhattan does to you, I'm very glad that I didn't move there when I had the opportunity 35 years ago. I hope I never get so cynical that I start to view friendly human contact as a negative thing.

                                                                                                      2. My friends and I used to joke that TJ employees take pot, not cigarette, breaks because they're mostly so friendly, helpful, and sometimes just a lil goofy, if you know what I mean...

                                                                                                        I'll take TJs peeps over the bitchy hipsters of both genders over at WF any day. :)

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                          At least in La Jolla, our WF people are just as friendly as the TJ people, and save for one or two exceptions do not seem to be hipsters (and even they are friendly hipsters rather than bitchy hipsters).

                                                                                                          1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                            You're a beach town. That explains everything. :P

                                                                                                          2. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                            My WF cashiers must join their TJ's colleagues across the parking lot for a pot break because they're all really nice. Or maybe we don't get too many hipsters here in Massachusetts.

                                                                                                            1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                              LOL, Isolda.

                                                                                                              I think hipsters are everywhere, and I certainly know my fair share of nice ones. But my Whole Foods experiences are limited to LA and Orange counties (CA), and I will admit we probably have (or had - I'm now in San Diego county) a disproportionate share of hipsters with baditude. :)

                                                                                                          3. As sort of an epilogue to this thread, I attempted to make conversation with the cashier at the La Jolla, CA Trader Joe's last week. In particular, I was commenting on all the space they've just added, and how it almost looks like a grocery store now (seriously, I have never EVER seen a TJ's with aisles as wide as it has). The cashier joked about how you can get lost in there, and how it is difficult to get a price check now, but I picked up the signs that he wasn't interested in *too* much conversation that day.

                                                                                                            So there. :)

                                                                                                            1. so TJ's is much cheaper than whole foods, but to make a comparison: the TJ cashiers where we are make lots of comments about the food and push us through a lot faster than at whole foods. the comments they make always seem a little forced, maybe that's bc they are rushing so fast? sometimes the comments seem creepy, sometimes they just seem like nice people that are super rushed.

                                                                                                              1. This is an old thread, but I want to add that there's a genuine reason to want to engage in conversation with the cashiers.

                                                                                                                I've been going to the Trader Joe's in the University Center plaza in Irvine, California, since I moved to Orange County. It's part of my Saturday routine—coffee at one of the coffeeshops, the farmers market, and then Trader Joe's. My daughter's been coming with me since she was three weeks old, and we make conversation with the Trader Joe's staff, who give her stickers and listen politely to the wild stories she makes up ("and there was a MONSTER behind the wild rice, but I smacked it with a bag of pasta and it ran away...")

                                                                                                                One day recently, my daughter (who's 4 now) wanted to make a wish in the fountain in the centre of the plaza. I gave her a coin and she ran off to go put the coin in the fountain, which was maybe twenty yards away. Someone moved a big pallet of equipment across the sidewalk as I was heading to meet her, and when I got there, she was gone.

                                                                                                                Panic, horror, etc. I couldn't find her at all, even having enlisted the help of the owner of Kochee Kabob, who got the (sleeping in his vehicle—urgh) security guard to help me.

                                                                                                                After about half an hour of looking and searching with the security guards, Peter, one of the employees at the Trader Joe's, came running through the plaza to tell me that they'd seen my daughter wandering around by the store and had corralled her in the service desk with a piece of candy. She knew who they were, they knew who she was, and so she didn't freak out about being "penned up" to wait.

                                                                                                                Had it just been the usual "ring up your groceries", I don't know if it would have been the same outcome. I'm sure someone would have found her, but the employees knew who I was and so could send someone to look for me.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                  I could write a really long post...but just say "People you knew (even causally) came through for you" That's what it's all about

                                                                                                                  1. re: chris2269

                                                                                                                    The point really was that I wouldn't have known them even casually had we not had these conversations that the OP dislikes. Sure, they might have recognised me if they'd seen me, but they wouldn't have put it together with the small child whom they found wandering round outside the store.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                      I'm so happy the staff as there for you and your daughter. You must have been out of your mind with worry.

                                                                                                                      I misplaced my mother in the grocery when I was your daughters age. Suddenly I was surrounded by a sea of legs and terrified. Someone realized I was lost and brought me to the supervisor cage (it was an elevated area near the registers that looked like a prison yard guard station). I was scared and confused - I was having strangers talk to me, but they seemed like they could help. How much better it would have been if we "knew" each other like your TJ situation.

                                                                                                                2. i work at trader joes. they like us to be friendly and talkative at the register, but if i can tell someone's not in the mood to talk i leave them alone.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: fuhgettaboudit02

                                                                                                                    Even though this topic us 2 years old I still remember it and find it pretty funny. The cliches about New York 'attitude' are legendary (I grew up in Queens BTW). Some of the posts here are really perfect examples of it. ;o))))))

                                                                                                                  2. I genuinely appreciate the fact that TJs cashiers are friendly, helpful, and engage me in conversation.

                                                                                                                    No, it's not embarrassing. No, it's not irritating, grating, or offensive.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                      I like TJ's employees too. They are a wealth of information, and engaging in a conversation with them can result in great food finds.
                                                                                                                      I've always lived in SoCal, and most cashiers are generally friendly overall. The youngsters (speaking non-TJ's here) can be the least approachable sometimes, I've found. They barely grunt at you and you can forget about them saying 'Thank you, have a nice day."

                                                                                                                      What I found interesting was when I did some frequent traveling into AZ a couple of years ago. WOW, those people are even friendlier. There really is a difference in the 'culture of openness' from region to region.
                                                                                                                      I can totally understand that if you grew up in a place where cashiers (or strangers in general) are unfriendly, then TJ's can jar your senses. LOL

                                                                                                                      1. re: PasadenaRose

                                                                                                                        Had a great chat with the cashier at my TJ's (outside Boston) yesterday. At least at my store you can tell they listen to your reply and respond appropriately -- they are not "programmed" in any way.

                                                                                                                        1. re: L2k

                                                                                                                          I just got back from a week in Boston, and I found the people there to be pretty chatty. What I liked were the older guys with the blue collar Boston accent that makes them sound tough, and then you realize they're actually being quite charming. It is different, though, than the smiley California style I'm used to.

                                                                                                                    2. I know this post is old, but WOW, you're really over the top about this!

                                                                                                                      I live in Los Angeles, and have had a TJs near my home since the 1970s. Yes, the store clerks have always been friendly, for the most part. I, for one, love discussing my latest finds with employees and other customers. It's part of an old tradition because products come and go, unlike at the usual grocery store. TJ's sources new items, loses their source, and often has to move on to a new products, not new sources for the same delicious product. It's how it goes. The dialogues are how we make new discoveries, as well as becoming part of each other's lives. Last night, we discussed our upcoming trip to New Orleans with our cashier, and had some great tales about prior trips, his and ours! He can't wait to hear of our adventures when we return.

                                                                                                                      No, we don't get judgement from employees about buying a lifetime supply of dried blueberries or whatever, so maybe you're a bit sensitive.

                                                                                                                      Oh yeah. And because we're friendly and the TJs team is friendly, we found our new fabulous petsitter! You don't like making friends, just don't respond or glare. I'm sure they'll get your message!

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: SB foodie

                                                                                                                        Some employees can be pretty oblivious even to glaring or non repsponsiveness. I live in the north east which is not noted for over friendliness among strangers so when my TJs first opened I found the chattiness that the OP mentions a bit jarring.
                                                                                                                        Then one time my life went straight to hell in a hand basket. Problem is that I needed some snacks so that I would remember to eat during my ordeal. I must have had thunderclouds over my head and crime scene yellow tape around my personal space. Did that stop them? Ha! At least I am not in jail for punching some chirpy TJs employee out.
                                                                                                                        There is also one cashier who insists on asking over and over again if I am ready to check out whenever I walk any where near her register. She does this when the TJs is not crowded at all. Once there was a display of gorgeous orchids near the check out in mid-winter. I was standing there mesmerized by their beauty. No one else was around. She moved towards me, stuck her face into mine and asked if I was ready. I never do this but she annoyed me so much that I responded No! in a harsh voice. I was embarrassed by my behavior but it did not stop her from doing it again. And again. I have finally come to think of her as a mob in an online game with a really long aggro radius because she simply won't leave me alone. Sometimes they don't get the message.

                                                                                                                        1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                          >>"There is also one cashier who insists on asking over and over again if I am ready to check out whenever I walk any where near her register. "<<

                                                                                                                          Sometimes store staff are trained to do something like that and graded or judged on their doing it regularly. If that woman doesn't have the common sense to know when it isn't appropriate, or whtn enough is enough, she may not last long there. At least I'd like to think that. I work in a shop where some of the staff, IMHO, approaches walk-in customers with a far too intrusive and mechanical welcome. I think they believe the owner wants it that way, but I am aware that many customers are somewhat annoyed by the greeting when they're engaged in conversation with a companion or miss a lot of the 'automatic' greeting.

                                                                                                                          I try to use more common sense, but often feel as if the owner would prefer the excessive greeting. Largely a matter of style, I think.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                            thanks midlife I posted my comments with some trepidation and I'm glad you can see the other side. This person has been there about four years. I try to avoid her when I can.

                                                                                                                      2. Trader Joe's employees are chatty which I usually don't mind. The worst offender was an employee at Wegmans this past week. I almost lost my mind. In a quite crowded store with every register lined up with 3 or 4 people she literally had long mindless chats with everyone. The worst part was that she was unable of talking and working. I try to be polite and patient but I think my frustration and, by the end of it, anger was all over my face. She then chatted me to death and I kept smiling and being friendly but I was near the point of informing a manager that she might want to cut the chatter at busy times or at least focus on multi tasking.

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                          This is what I'm talking about. There's an art to chit chat while ringing up groceries. some people have it down to a science and I would say that's most of the staff at TJ's. I too had a woman who chatted but couldn't handle chatting while ringing up groceries. at one point she just stopped ringing up the stuff on the belt and just stood there in conversation. the shopper lady was just as oblivious and chatty. when she got to me I just smiled and kept it friendly but no chit chat back for her!!

                                                                                                                          1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                            You jut described my afternoon - 2 customers in front of me who joined right in and engaged in the banter as if it was afternoon tea. And yes, I did the same thing you did. I wasn't unfriendly or rude but didn't encourage her though she really did try to get me to join in. At TJs, they keep it moving. In most stores they do and I like the chat as long as it's accompanied by other productivity. I really like when they comment on a new item that I've picked up, helpful to have an experienced vote of confidence.

                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                              yes, this was at Whole Foods and not at TJ's as I no longer live in a TJ town :( if they can't hack the multitasking they should be stocking groceries or something. Yakity yak!

                                                                                                                              1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                I deal with this at work too. I'm a pathologist and it's quite hilarious/frustrating when someone can't talk and look at slides. I wonder how they manage to get anything done if anyone else is there and happens to talk.

                                                                                                                        2. Maybe this is a regional thing? I'm in Michigan, a cross between the talkative East/Chicago and introverted Midwest, so my TJ's cashiers are all just "normal." Some are pleasant but have nothing to say - which is fine - others will say "these are new and people love them, let us know what you think" but none of the crazy nosiness. Now we DO have crazy nosy people working in other stores ("may I help you?" in face, for 10th time - "NO, THANK YOU, I'M STILL LOOKING")...

                                                                                                                          1. It seems unlikely that this could cause as much trouble at TJs as it might at another type of store -- say Target or Walmart. A chatty cashier rambling on about underwear, lady products, or rat poison would be much more annoying!

                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                              LOL--we had an outdoor rodent problem (don't even want to type "rat") under the bird feeders. Went to Home Depot, found a rat bait. I hid it under other stuff on the checkout belt, just had the bar scan visible. Clerk loudly said "oh, this is one of the best rat poisons--your house will be free of them soon!" I tried to act like that wasn't my cart a'tall!

                                                                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                omg pine reminds me of the time that they had to do a price check on condoms at the drugstore. So surreal. I pretended that I was in a movie. I cannot believe still that this actually happened to me. /blush

                                                                                                                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                  I used to now a fun gal that used to work at a major drug chain (the name starts with a W), she would block part of the bar code with her finger on a pack of condoms and then get on the PA "price check on register 3 for trojan condoms, 12 pack", she was a pisser.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                                                                                                    That musta been a fun relationship...

                                                                                                                                  2. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                    Ha, that is too funny about the price check. I'm usually all in favor of having cashiers recognize me and maybe ask a thing or two, but when I met my husband we were an interracial pair in a very very white area and stood out like a sore thumb. The closest place to get condoms was a Safeway that kept them locked up so you had to have an employee retrieve them from the case. After a couple of visits the guy manning the pharmacy department would see us and just say "let me go get the key." 19-yr-old me wanted to die, but me at 36 thinks it's funny and we were doing the responsible thing.

                                                                                                                              2. Sounds normal to me, at least in Nevada. They usually comment on something I've bought, if they've tried it, or ask me about my day. I look forward to chatting with the TJ's clerks so that if it happens I go in and they aren't chatty, I feel out of sorts afterwards.

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: DandelionFluff

                                                                                                                                  It's company policy to be interactive and pleasant. Everyone has their own way of achieving it and some folks are louder than others about it. If you'd rather be accosted by rudeness or indifferent silence, there are plenty other places to shop.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DandelionFluff

                                                                                                                                    I agree. Last week I ran in after work in scrubs and the cashier asked "just finished or about to start" and at first I was confused but then realized she was referring to work. We then had a lovely conversation as she continued to ring up the groceries and I was out in the same amount of time or less than at other stores and left happy knowing there it's still ok to engage with the world while we all run around harried doing our daily duties.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                      Amazing to me how widely varied the opinions are in this topic. Just read a post complaining that the checkers make mistakes because they're talking too much. Others think the conversation is intrusive and wastes time. Relax people!!!!

                                                                                                                                  2. What's funny is the same company that owns Trader Joe's also owns Aldi - and in my experiences at least, Aldi's employees are like night and day different from Trader Joe's - they are always blank and emotionless and don't talk to you at all or offer to help you with anything.

                                                                                                                                    Whereas with Trader Joe's they are obviously encouraging their employees to act like they're all on extasy or something, it's as if Aldi's coaches them to avoid the customers like the plague, lol.

                                                                                                                                    I'm not complaining about Aldi though, because I'm not there to chit chat, and it keeps the lines moving along. But yeah, TJ's employees need to chill with the cult mentality.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Atomic76

                                                                                                                                      TJs is the one place I need to bring a list. I just can't think when I'm there. Last time I forgot crackers and I really wanted some. Often If there is something new and appealing I like to think about a complete mea. Not happening there. I tend to take awhile to shop at Aldis but I come home with everything I need plus more.
                                                                                                                                      Sunday evening is a good time for me to go to TJs. Things seem a bit calmer if I go between seven and eight.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Atomic76

                                                                                                                                        I don't think saying "hey, these chips are great, one of my new favorites!" or "how's your day, did you find everything you needed?" or even "ooh, this stuff's new, I haven't tried it yet, let me know how it is next time you're here!" is really buying into a 'cult mentality' or 'on ecstasy'. Or in any way unpleasant.

                                                                                                                                      2. I dont recall any encounter with anyone at TJ's that involved lengthy comments or banter. I have had cashiers comment on items that I have bought but I take that as only support of the product. I have asked cashiers if they have tried a certain item that I have already tried so that I can spread the word. A good new item at TJ's is gold to us shoppers.

                                                                                                                                        1. Yes, I've encountered the play-by-play commentary at multiple TJs in Michigan and Illinois.

                                                                                                                                          It's not the perkiness that bothers me, but how distracted the cashier often gets by their own commentary.

                                                                                                                                          I have been overcharged so many times by chatty cashiers at TJs that I have to be vigilant in checking the register. The employee has *never* caught the overcharge, even when the total is ridiculous. Why? Because they are still talking about what I've just purchased and what I should purchase next time and how I should cook it...

                                                                                                                                          Usually the cashiers are casual enough about their opinions/voluntary suggestions, but once I actually had a gentleman refuse to sell me the bag of blueberries I had selected, giving me the ounce/dollar comparison on the other options, leave the register, and exchange my blueberries. It was just plain weird.

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: tokyo

                                                                                                                                            Perhaps the item was damaged..we do happen to care if you get good food.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandman23

                                                                                                                                              No, it wasn't damaged. He did not stop talking through the entire exchange. He thought the other bag was better and decided for me that I was going to buy them.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: tokyo

                                                                                                                                              well, after not living with a TJ for 7 months I decided I'd rather have a checkout person distracted by talking to me rather than their co-worker. I sometimes go to this small Whole Foods and apparently the customer doesn't exist here. The checkout people seem to really enjoy each other. Glad they like their co-workers and discussing yoga and stuff but it's a bit insulting after the 3rd time.

                                                                                                                                              I do think that there's a fine line between light appropriate chit chat and gabbing then losing attention. I also think most of the TJ workers have perfected this except for a few. The deal is some people just won't be good at their job. and this is in every field you'll come across. I've had good doctors and horrible ones. I've had great bus drivers and ones that almost take out the entire sidewalk population.

                                                                                                                                            3. We are damned if we do and damned if we don't.
                                                                                                                                              I worked for one and we couldn't please anyone...we talk to much, or not enough..blah, blah. Why not be happy that we try? because after the 100th customer we cant always make a fresh and exciting comment, trust me we get irritated too.

                                                                                                                                              Just give them a break.

                                                                                                                                              1. Just give a wane cough and say you don't want to contaminate them.

                                                                                                                                                Remain silent through check-out. Dab nose.

                                                                                                                                                [There's always a way].

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                                                                                                                                  Please, not with our customers...it's" oh no what do you have...I hope I don't get it I have kids blah, blah"...yeah but, at the same time we get sick babies, and mother who go on about how natural that malarkey is.

                                                                                                                                                2. I immediately thought of this thread when I read this:


                                                                                                                                                  1. If talking with the cashiers somehow resurrected the Oat n Wheat Bran Swirls, the hours will seem like minutes...

                                                                                                                                                    1. Yikes! I was under the impression that Trader Joe's treated their employees well. I have never had bad service there, ever, except from one woman who has apparently been terminated. I have encountered extremely rude customers, however, especially on the weekends. I recently witnessed one woman pretty much destroy a display of bagged salads even after a stocker asked if she could help and informed her that all the dates were the same because it had all come in that morning. I also don't understand people who put their dirty sample cups and plates on the shelf but that's a whole 'nother topic. To stay more on topic, my favorite cashier is courteous and will make an occasional comment about something she enjoys, but she's fast and efficient and doesn't engage in so much of the useless small talk.

                                                                                                                                                      1. well, after not having a TJ's in my life I appreciate the friendliness of the staff. I lived without a TJ's for 7 months and let's just say they were challenging times. My husband joked that we should have made "a day without a Trader Joes video" for myself and family. after it was gone out of my life I was left with your basic grocery store where the employees are grumpy or non existent. as I mentioned before some people are good at the small talk and some people just aren't. what's also notable is that people who have never been to a TJ's are truly impressed at the friendliness of the employees. Well, at least here in Colorado the people are pretty happy about the chatty friendly employees...

                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                          So glad you've got a brand spanking new TJ's trolley! I remember you were sad! Anything missing from the Colorado store that you used to be able to get in CA, was it?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ohmyyum

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks ohmyyum! The one thing I can't get at my TJ's is WINE. Well, I can get wine but I have to go to the shop in Denver which isn't far but not a 10 min drive. There is a CO law that only one store per chain can have a wine/beer shop. Only one in the whole state. So our Whole Foods has the wine shop but none of the Denver or any of the other WF's have a wine store. I was visiting the in laws in denver on sunday so i took a detour there. it was a zoo and the guy said they can't keep up with the demand and end up with empty shelves everyday. The stores are the same. If you go at night, many items are just gone. I guess there was a demand here for TJ's and not just a whiny me!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                              Oh my gosh and I thought Minnesota Grocery store liquor laws were bad - only 1 per chain is even worse. Whoever comes up with these truely inane laws is not representing what the people want imo.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: daver9000

                                                                                                                                                                Well, argue that to the good people of colorado. I got in to a bickering match with some of the Mountain States bc I called this law "silly". Ok, how about one chain store per county?

                                                                                                                                                                What's the law in Minn?

                                                                                                                                                        2. Yeah, I like going to Trader Joe's when I am in a Really Crabby Mood so that I can get really honked off by all that chatty friendliness. Makes me feel really satisfied to get all bent outa shape when I am asked about my purchases and preferences by a chipper clerk.

                                                                                                                                                          (Warning, sarcasm alert!)

                                                                                                                                                          1. Totally agree. I like to watch the prices come up on the register, especially on produce, so I can make sure they're correct. Plus, I have no desire to make small talk with strangers. I recently moved and, at my old store, one of the cashiers was an elderly gentleman who didn't say a peep other than to ask me if I found what I needed. I loved him...

                                                                                                                                                            1. If the checkout person is TOO chatty, I tell the store manager that not eveyone who checks out is in a chatty mood, in fact something in their personal lives put them in a non talkative mood.....I recently told a Cosco manager that a refund clerk made the comment....."We never had a problem with this before !!"....I told the Mgr, that the implication was I was lying....result....she'll never do it again.

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LEOFONT

                                                                                                                                                                I was once in a very non chatty mood due to a circumstance in my personal life. It was probably evident that I had been crying and my favorite cashier (the one who is friendly and super super fast but not annoyingly chatty) disappeared and came back with my favorite candy (dark chocolate pistachio toffee) and some flowers. Totally unexpected and so genuinely kind that I was almost brought to tears (again). It seems like even the regular employees have the autonomy to do such random acts of kindness. I make sure to look for her and say hi every time in the store.... Result.... She'll make someone else's day, too.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LEOFONT

                                                                                                                                                                  If you're not in a mood to talk, simply saying so is much more human than reporting an employee to the store manager for being friendly.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I know this thread is old, but I found it fascinating. I grew up in northern New Jersey in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s, and as the OP said 6+ years ago, people really weren't chit-chatty - in a store or otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                  When I moved to central Pennsylvania in the mid-80s (lived there for about 5 years), I was startled to be greeted on the street by several someones looking me in the eye, smiling and saying "Good morning!" or "Great day, isn't it?" But I got used to it and enjoyed it, and did it myself.

                                                                                                                                                                  I now live in the Boston area, and get a combination of both - you have the closed, uptight gruff Yankees who talk very little, because they're economy-minded in everything they do. Then there are many who open up and will smile at you, ask if you've found everything OK (and *mean* it vs. it just being a line they are required to say), chat with you.

                                                                                                                                                                  Given the choice? I'll take the checkout or C/S person or bartender who acknowledges you vs. sullenly checking you out or putting a drink down in front of you and walking away, which I've rarely had happen to me in Boston. Yeah, it can happen, but it's not the norm. Or at least it hasn't been so for me.

                                                                                                                                                                  I guess I'm one of those people who enjoy chatting - I'm often asked when picking something out in the produce section or on the checkout line "Oh. I've never seen anyone buy these (whatever they are). How are you going to use them?"

                                                                                                                                                                  You get what you give. If you're not in the mood for uber-happy chit-chat, at least be civil in your response. There's often so little civility in human interaction these days. Why exacerbate that problem? Sometimes being treated nicely by a C/S person (or treating THEM nicely) can help uplift the other person, if even for just a little while. Much prefer remembering nice C/S people vs. shitty ones.

                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                    I agree! I love the chatter but even I have times when I am "not in the mood." In those rare moments, I respond cordially but am not overly talkative and most of the cashiers respond appropriately. However, most of the time it's just nice conversation and I can still watch the till and make sure that the items are ringing up correctly. Actually, somewhat sadly enough, my shopping errands make me believe that civility still exists. It's usually on my weekly trip that I encounter so many people who are just friendly for the sake of being friendly which usually brings a big smile to my face.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                      This topic IS old, but people keep posting to it.

                                                                                                                                                                      I've found there definitely IS regional variation in general "openness". At one point, living in SoCal, I became friendly with someone who had moved here after many years in Hawaii. When we'd walk around a nearby lake, he was astonished at how few people would even make eye contact. His head would probably have exploded in some Eastern states (JMHO).

                                                                                                                                                                      I work retail in a seaside touristy environment and, allowing for language and hearing issues, I am frequently aware of people being non-responsive to what I hope is a genuinely welcoming greeting on entry.

                                                                                                                                                                      It takes all kinds I guess.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                        I don't disagree with you that some people are less likely to look you in the eye in some Northeast states or be amenable to chit-chat. I'm going to blame it on the bitter cold wind against which we've always got our head down battling to get to a warm house or car. The phrase "bitter cold" when it comes to weather just doesn't occur in Hawaii. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                        But, having said that, it's not always the case in the Northeast (non eye-contact, etc.).

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                        I agree...I don't mind a chatty checkout person. Sometimes, the chatter is helpful, as in "just so you know, those roasts are going on sale next week", and sometimes it's just pleasant.

                                                                                                                                                                        What I don't like (and this is a diff thing) is servers who, after removing my empty dinner plate post-meal, will say "Well, looks like we didn't like it at all!"

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                          OK, your latter point is a different issue but drives me insane!! I always get the "wow you must have been hungry." Yes, thank you. Please remove my plate. Sorry I couldn't resist an outburst in response to your post.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes. I love that some of the employees know me by name and I always make sure to acknowledge my cashier by name. It tells them that you recognize them as a human being, and not just a means to an end (paying for your groceries).

                                                                                                                                                                        3. I love the fact that TJ's employees are generally very friendly, upbeat and knowledgeable about the stuff they sell. I think they are generally happy with their employer, their benefits and their job...and it shows. Much prefer their positive helpful attitude to that of a checker who is grumpy and sullen.

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                              I went to TJ's today and witnessed a brie type of cheese that was shaped like a heart. I'm a sucker for anything heart shaped so I asked if he knew anything about it. He responded with a "no, I have no idea but let's open it and find out!" we happily walked over to the sampling station and opened the heart shaped cheese and we both agreed it was pretty decent. He was so personable and truly happy to be standing there sampling cheese or at least he did a fine job or pretending. Of course, I bought the cheese and left happy. Happy workers=happy customers.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. I'm not a chatty person and I do feel like they are wasting my time some days. However, this winter had been long and cold and sometimes the smiling TJ' s cashier is the only smile I see and cheerful voice I hear that day. And I thought if was very nice when I overheard the cashier asking a couple older patrons how the weather was treating them and if they were staying warm.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Yeah I get this every 10th time or so. Commenting on one of my items. I just shrug it off, agree with them. Not worth getting all RAGE about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. You are in NYC.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Tell them to STFU.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Every time I run across this thread I can't help but think of the classic Gilda Radner song "I Love To Be Unhappy"


                                                                                                                                                                                    (Thankfully it is the short version)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                                                      I like that!!!! What is the big deal that someone would like to chat a bit; or is a real effort to "look up" from your smartphone?? Some folks should just get over themselves...............

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. YESSSSSS! We are forced to talk waaayyy to much to the customers. the managers base our reviews for pay raises on it. We think it is a bit much, too. However, management doesn't listen to us. So sorry if our chattiness offends anyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rivercanyon

                                                                                                                                                                                        well, if you don't like the talk come to Boulder, CO. They just started opening up new store in this state and so far the only people who talk are the one's from CA. Seems the newly hired do not talk. IT actually feels a bit weird.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                            yeah, i did complain a bit about excessive oversharing by some staff a few comments above but this is weird. no talk. NONE. not even a "so, how's your day?". NO comments about the food. Friendly, sort of. I find it very very odd. Please bring back my chatty checkout TJ person! Please! Now!!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                              They've definitely been chatty with me at checkout in Boulder.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I actually work for Trader Joe's in NC. During the hiring process the people chosen to work for Trader Joe's are for the most part, outgoing and friendly. Something that you cannot train a person to be. You can probably train a monkey to scan and bag groceries and put items on a shelf. We are like a family at my store and we actually genuinely care about each other and our customers. It takes a very special person to work in high volume stores like Trader Joe's and deliver a "WOW experience" to the customers. We do not get paid extra for anything and many of our crew members lost their health insurance after the "affordable care act" initiated. So just remember the next time you shop at Trader Joe's that the "chatty cashier" desperately trying to make conversation with you is just doing the best they can. It takes a LOT of energy to try to strike conversation with each person that goes through your lines and that is why food is often the choice for conversation starters. Why do you think we only have to do a 2 hour stretch at a time and then rotate to another part of the store? Because it is mentally and physically draining to make conversation with people and scan and bag their groceries even for that short amount of time. We too, would turn into the sullen, drone robots like the workers at other supermarkets if we had to stand in that one place and scan and bag groceries all day. We start coming into the store at 4am and don't open until 8 and we stay sometimes past 11pm when we close at 9. So yes we have a huddle every morning and evening to pump us up for opening time and after hours when we have to unload and break down the 18 pallets every night from the truck delivery and stock the shelves to provide for our customers. There is a lot of patience and physical endurance needed to work this job and if it weren't for my awesome co workers/managers and our awesome, appreciative customers it would be a miserable job! So YES we are an excellent example of customer service because we are people persons and love the products that we sell! Maybe next time when you have your chatty cashier just remember they may have marital problems, a sick child, a recent death in the family, financial problems, or their own health issues, and they put it all aside and try to bring your spirits up and make you happy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ilovemydogs

                                                                                                                                                                                          I love the chatter! Last week the employee was less chatty than I'm used to, so I started the chatter. I look forward to it actually, a break from the day to have a nice conversation.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ilovemydogs

                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you ilovemydogs! I assure you that most of your customers truly appreciate the warmth, knowledge and positive attitude of TJ employees. Please keep it up!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ilovemydogs

                                                                                                                                                                                              It was interesting to learn a bit about the behind-the-scenes sitch at TJ. I too appreciate the friendliness of the staff and their genuine interest in satisfying their customers. Some years back there was a generally awful reality show in which Rocco di Spirito put together a NYC restaurant. I remember being impressed by those applicants for whom waitstaffing was a *chosen* profession. Before that, I'd always assumed servers did the job because they needed incomes while training for other careers, or couldn't get work in their desired professions, or had no qualifications for something "better". But these career servers were true professionals, for whom providing a happy dining experience to customers was deeply gratifying. It's more than taking pride in a job well done, which is something anyone can achieve by applying onesself to the task. It is a fortunate worker who both does the job well and actually enjoys doing it, and fortunate the person who is his/her customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. It must be a NY thing. I work in a TJs in the suburbs of the Bay Area and people out here like friendly customer service. In fact they find it disturbing if the cashier doesn't try to engage them in small talk. I say all this with respect to the east coast (raised in NJ). Even friends from back east say that I'm far more laid back and too nice for their taste lol! But yes, we love our jobs for the most part here at TJs, company treats us well and it just shows:)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. we (TJs "clerks") do this for a few reasons, 1) to avoid silence while your standing there tapping your little impatient feet while glaring at us bagging your food instead of lending a hand. 2) we are typically very friendly and polite people. 3) most importantly to shake off the last degrading self-righteous entitled bastard that was before you in line, to convince ourselves that not all customers in our store are complete assholes...
                                                                                                                                                                                                your lowly neighborhood TJs clerk

                                                                                                                                                                                                26 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Puckaface17

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I usually "lend a hand" at bagging, Puckaface, but I'm too slow to finish, and then it's time to pay. I figure it's more important for me to pay, so I let the checker do the rest of the bagging. I mean, if you *want* to do the paying while I continue bagging, that would be nice, but so far, no one has offered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also didn't realize I was supposed to be helping. It's sort of not set up for helping and as you said, I need to pay and move out of the way of other customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                      So I asked the checker at TJs this morning about this and her reply was basically that they appreciate the customer helping if the store is crowded or the customer has a lot of items. It helps to move along the line during peak hours and since the counter space is limited it helps when there are a lot of items and the checker runs out of room to place them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Isn't this something you'd think of doing at any market? At TJ's I think it seems more appropriate because they've been at the forefront of the re/usable bag movement AND because of how friendly they are. But the idea that I'd just stand there while my local Ralph's market checker (who often has no bagger help) is stressing out because there are 10 people in her line just seems a bit entitled. Maybe it's just me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Most other markets I visit are not set up this way. It's very clear that the checker bags the groceries. In fact to assist them would involve walking around the counter to help which would be sort of awkward. If there were 10 other people in line at TJs I would help. I don't frequent during those times so it's never been an issue but around here no one really bags their own groceries. Not that I'm entitled, its just not the normal practice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                            THANK YOU Midlife. exactly how I feel. (Just because it's not "normal practice" to not be considerate of people behind you in line and of the cashier doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jay, I'm really only referring to those people that insist on watching you bag meanwhile they act as if you are somehow causing them an unacceptable inconvenience. if you're really lucky you'll get one dad is not only impatient but will also direct you as you try to do your job. I'm not talking about common sense issues such as putting cold items together, more referring to the woman who freaks out on youfor putting a brand new toothbrush in the same bag as canned goods. I'm referring to Joe shmo, that complains to a manager because there gluten free items we'rent all packed together. luckily most customers are quite polite anda pleasure to deal with but there's always gotta be one. as for the checker that reedley stated thanks for the help and then passed for groceries into a bag...that is unacceptable especially for trader joe's. by the way you should never be asked or expected to bag your own groceries there but if you choose not two help give the checker a few extra seconds to make shure your items are packed up the way you like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Puckaface17

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'd say this is pretty good evidence that people can post here pretty much anonymously. If you really do work for TJ's you might want to consider pulling into the 'shop' for an attitude adjustment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Puckaface17

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh my goodness! Now I understand why the odd checker at the Knoxville TJ's said, "Thank you so much for the help!" She said it in a horrible tone. She was throwing stuff into bags without saying a word the whole time. She was awful. It was only my third experience there, and my husband's first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Becca Porter

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm sure TJ's management would be thrilled to hear that. :o()

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Puckaface17

                                                                                                                                                                                                              OMG. Thank you for mentioning this. I'm a regular TJ's customer, and I can't even count how many inconsiderate a-holes I have GLARED at, who just stand around not helping the cashiers bag the groceries. The line could be 10 people deep, and they will still just stand there with their thumbs up their asses, because they can't possibly be expected to bag their own groceries! The horror! These people, in my mind, are what is wrong with the world. Have some freaking human decency, and consideration for the people around you. I'm willing to bet the OP never bags their own groceries LOL. (I ALWAYS happily bag my own groceries at TJ's....and at any grocery store where there isn't a bagger available :P)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LFS18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wow! I was never under the impression you were expected to bag especially given the bags are on the side of the cashier. In what other store are you an asshole for not bagging? I don't mind bagging but the set up makes it somewhat awkward and when I have tried to go around the counter and help I've been told "it's ok!" If TJs expects customers to help bag a sign would be helpful as my grocery store etiquette is that you stay out of the way and help if the bagging area is conveniently at the end of the counter which it is not at TJs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Every TJ's I have ever been too has bags at the end of the aisle, too - not just on the cashiers side. If I am in a line, and there were no bags, I would ASK the cashier for the bag so I could start bagging. It's not the act of bagging, it's completely a matter of being aware of your surroundings and thinking about the people behind you..... It absolutely blows my mind when I see people stand there and waste several minutes because they don't think to help bag :P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LFS18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well apparently you haven't been to every TJs because that's not how it's set up at the stores I go to. It would be intrusive, awkward and it would slow down the flow for me to go around the counter and help. I've tried, it just prolongs the activity. It's not about being rude, inconsiderate and unaware.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Did I claim I had been to every TJ's on earth?? I said "every TJs that I HAVE BEEN TO" - For example, the TJ's in Old Town Alexandria is one of the busiest in the DC area. It is VERY normal to go in there, have every single register be open, and every single line be 10+ people deep. They ALWAYS have the bags stacked and out and easily accessible. So are you seriously saying that IN THAT SITUATION, you wouldn't grab a bag and HELP the cashier bag your groceries in order to help the line move faster?? That's really great of you...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LFS18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's not the situation I have been confronted with, but in that situation I would help. As I stated, I have tried to help but the set up is different and it just makes it worse. If the set up was like yours I would help. But you insinuated that anyone not helping was some evil self-absorbed human without considering that perhaps not everyone's store is set up the same way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Okay I see both sides to this. I never realized that they allowed you to bag until I had that mean TJ's cashier in Knoxville. After that I asked the cashier next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        He showed me the bags at the end of the register. I helped him bag. He thanked me profusely. I now always help bag. The bags have been there in Baton Rouge and Dallas. I always get thanked profusely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's not right to blame people though. They probably have not been enlightened yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: LFS18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It would never even occur to me to share the bagging duties with the cashier. At the TJ's I go to it old seem incredibly awkward to do so. I must be lazy and a terrible person to boot! Oh...and at my TJ's I'm not sure that I've ever seen a customer help with the bagging. I must live in terrible place!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I bag my order, but not because I'm afraid of being considered a bad person. I bagged my way through high school and college; and bagging seems to be a lost art these days. So, since I want my colds packed together, and my bread or bananas on top of canned goods, I bag my own orders everywhere, including TJ's. If I get a thank you, it's just a bonus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. re: LFS18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When I shop at TJ's, the cashier always bags the groceries as they ring them up. The only way I could help bag is to move the bag away from them and take the groceries out of their hands as they ring them up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        At my local grocery store, each lane has a dedicated bagger to speed things along.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have never been under the impression that paying for my food rather than bag the groceries for them was rudeness on my part, and I completely reject that idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, most regular grocery stores do have dedicated baggers - But, at least where I live, these have also become less common, and baggers will sort of roam between 2 or 3 aisles. If a bagger is busy elsewhere, and there is a line of people behind me, I will also bag my groceries at a regular grocery store in this instance - My point is that people need to be more aware of their surroundings, circumstances, and of the time of people around them as well. Not just wrapped up in themselves :P And I agree about TJ's - in my area, sometimes they DO bag as they go, but usually if it's very slow and there is no line...which is almost never the case in Northern Virginia (to say we are obsessed with TJ's is an understatement - there is a line all day, every day).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: LFS18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I never help bag at TJ's because the cashiers don't seem to like it. They are very careful in packing the bags and know where they want stuff to go, like Tetris. They are very good about putting frozen stuff together, making sure chips don't get broken, and getting the weight balanced between the bags. They are very efficient. When I try to help, it slows things down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The customers are mostly schlepping their groceries home. I imagine that at a TJ's where the customers take their groceries home by vehicle, they might not be so careful in packing the bags and wouldn't mind customers helping out more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't mind so much when the cashiers are very chatty or almost silent, but it does bother me when they are sullen and borderline rude to me but then very friendly to a coworker and then right back to sullen with me again. At worse, I am neutral towards them, never rude or sullen, so it doesn't seem deserved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The only cashier who has really bothered me by talking too much was one who had an extremely foul mouth. I curse, but in appropriate situations and quantities and degrees, so it takes a lot to offend me. He really overdid it in quality and quantity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I had the same cashier a couple of weeks later and he had toned it down a great deal, but I was still flinching every time he cursed, waiting for it to accelerate and intensify. So inappropriate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: RussTheRaccoon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No, they don't like it. in fact, this one super grumpy TJ's check out guy, (yes, there is one) got angry when I started bagging.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: LFS18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't even think it would be possible to bag your own groceries at the TJ I go to. There are fresh flowers and other point-of-sale displays on the customer side of the checkout, the aisle everyone uses to exit the store at the end of the checkout and behind the counter with the clerk you'd be in the way of the clerk- and clerk behind them since the checkouts are back to back- getting the carts through. They bag your things behind the counter and put the bags into the cart, finish the transaction and wheel your cart to the end as you finish so you can proceed into the aisle to leave the store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It would be inconsiderate (and even rude,) to push into that system and disrupt the flow. The location I go to is non-stop busy and it would most certainly slow things down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: Puckaface17

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I always try and bag my own stuff. You have to bag your own at Winco, and it's hard to do at some of our grocery stores, but I can walk right to the end of the TJ's checkout stand and pull out the little shelf. I bring my own bags, so I guess that's why I like to bag my own, although I like to put frozen and chill in separate bags, not the same one, usually, because I always have enough for two. They always thank me for bagging and offer me a raffle ticket for bringing my own bags.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. As long as this old thread is up, this was in the SF paper today - maybe it should become the stock response!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Public Eavesdropping:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Did you find everything you needed?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I didn't find a million dollars or true love."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Conversation between female grocery checker and male customer, overheard at Trader Joe's on California Street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. You're the first person I've ever hear complain about receiving excellent service. It bothers you that a store has employees that aren't just checking your groceries like mindless zombies or emotionless robots, that they actually take notice and CARE what you are purchasing and offer you advice on other items you may enjoy?? The nerve of these people!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a good thing the majority of people feel completely the opposite of you, people who actually APPRECIATE a shopping experience with workers who actually have a brain and USE it...you know, like the one you're complaining about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As the saying goes, "You can please half the people all the time, or all the people half the time....but you can't please all the people, all the time". Thanks to your insightful input, we now can rest assured this statement is absolutely TRUE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I just thought of this, though someone may have already suggested it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are usually several checkout lines at Trader Joe's.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                They should designate one of them as "no chit-chat" lines where customers who can't stand the chit-chat could avoid it. Likely there is a checkout clerk who will happily volunteer to work this line.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Yes, they are like this at every TJ's I've been to here in Northern Virginia/DC (and we have MANY). But WHO. CARES.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, that's right, grouchy New Yorkers. Get over it, and enjoy the friendly service. Sheesh! No wonder all my DC-native friends who have relocated to NYC get fed up with the people up there :P Who complains about cheerfulness??!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LFS18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not a grouchy New Yorker. I'm a grouchy Californian. And the thing is, in crowded metropolitan areas, grocery stores are really, REALLY crowded. So to me it's disrespectful to all the people politely waiting in line who are not being paid to be there who would like to get home, eat their food, get to work, get out of a crowded grocery store, whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Speaking for myself, I love genuine cheerfulness and think it can be conveyed with a smile or a hello. I detest, however, cheerfulness that's expressed because it's company policy or because a manager told you to do it. It's about as appealing as a door to door salesperson complimenting my sweatpants and tshirt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Interesting thread...I always wondered why the clerks at my local TJs always find some item in my groceries to start a conversation. I assumed they were trained to do that and after one of them ran off to pick up a product he thought I should try, I was convinced it was upselling, but maybe it is just friendliness. Maybe I am just a young curmudgeon, but to me it just feels forced and a little bit fake; I would rather they just say "hi" and ring everything up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Re: the bagging, I usually grab a bag and help, but I always feel bad that the clerk will think I am insinuating that s/he is not moving fast enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I often am embarrassed but know they mean well. "What do you do with all of these macadamia nuts?" Uh, I eat them...bag to mouth. "Why so many mushrooms?" Hmm, because I needed them for my meals this week :) Now that I know they are encouraged to spark conversation I sort of write it off as forced conversation though it is nice to have a quick 5 minute friendly banter to break up a long day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree. I never make small talk, so really all I do is stand in line for forever as they chit chat, then try to make my own transaction as fast as possible. I mean, a male cashier once told me, "wow, you eat a lot," when I was buying two trays of their chicken wraps (they were to share with 3 other people). Thaaaanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As for bagging, bags are 10 cents here, so everyone brings their own. This means everyone is already holding their bags and has to bag all their own groceries, for the most part. So far I' ve noticed I'm the only one ride enough to just put my reusable bags on top of the groceries on the conveyer belt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Yesterday the checkout guy took a very long time chatting with the woman ahead of me and bagging up her groceries, because I think he was trying to pick her up. Fortunately for me, in that time I put back three candy bars that I was going to buy -- so in a way he did me a favor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. OMG. Actually engaging another human being in face-to-face conversation? How last-century!