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Dec 2, 2007 12:32 PM

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

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.)

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  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.

      4 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.

            1. re: pitu

              yes. management encourages us to talk about products and show our product knowledge

        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 Reply
          1. re: Cathy

            a completely impressive story about the manager taking your word for it and removing it from your bill. i'm not a fan of the TJ cashiers talking about my purchases but the story you shared is beyond impressive. thanks again for sharing it.

          2. 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.