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What It's Like to Work at Trader Joe's

8 Trader Joe's Secrets, Straight From an Anonymous Manager

There are plenty of Trader Joe's fun facts that would make any customer an even bigger fan of the store, and so will these secrets about what it's really like to work there. An employee who describes himself as a mate, or a manager, at Trader Joe's did a Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") session in which he anonymously answered burning questions from fans on the internet. If you've wondered how good the pay is, if the notoriously nice employees are really that enthusiastic all the time, and how the employees feel when you ask to try products, read on to discover all the answers.

The employees really are always happy.

Someone wanted to know, "Why are you all so happy?" It's true that Trader Joe's employees tend to be enthusiastic and friendly all the time, so is there any sorcery or company policy behind it? The employee said, "Honestly, before I worked there and was just a shopper I was thinking the same thing . . . 'Why are all these people so damn happy, must be faking it or something.' But now that I work there I can tell you it is 100 percent genuine. We are just happy to be at work. It's a great job with great people and we get treated humanely. Need a break? Go stretch your legs. Hungry? Grab a snack. Also very flexible with leaving early/coming in late. Low pressure, low stress job that pays well = happy employees."

They LOVE when you ask to try snacks — really!

"I LOVE when customers ask to try products!!!! Yes, you get to eat as much as you want and the remainder will be given to crew members. We donate as much food as we can to local food shelters but some food does get tossed into the trash. If an item is out of code (expired) we write it off and it goes to the suitable location (trash or donated)." Just make sure it's a reasonable request. He continued, "We're not gonna grill up a steak for you, but something that you can open up and taste, yeah go for it. They'll be happy to open it and let you try. Chips, candy, snacks. Stuff you can just open and eat. Shouldn't be an issue."

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Trader Joe's might never come to Canada.

At least, according to this person. When someone asked if the store would ever come to Canada, the response was, "Sadly I don't think so."

Kids can get treats if they find the hidden animal.

"Each store has a stuffed animal of some sort hiding somewhere. It's really just for kids to run around and find the missing animal, and they get a treat. Kids seem to LOVE it and parents go along with it too."

Managers have great hourly wages.

Your hourly wages might start at $10 at first, but once you move up, the pay gets even better. "There is no salary for managers other than the Captain (GM) but mates like myself are still hourly, which in my opinion is much nicer. I make $23 an hour and I work 50 hours a week, so factor in the OT and I get paid handsomely for a job I love doing and is low stress/fun. Plus the benefits are the best."

There's a reason for the quick expiration dates.

When a customer commented on the fact that the "bread has nearly immediate expiration dates," the employee explained about Trader Joe's lack of preservatives. "The best answer for this is that NONE of our products, breads included, have any sort of preservatives in them. Also if the section leader (person who orders that section, in your case — bread) does a poor job and orders too heavy then they are always having backstock which depletes slower so the new stuff becomes old stuff quick. And rotation. But I feel your pain. Thanks for the question!"

The best days to shop are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

According this employee, there are certain best days to shop at Trader Joe's. "Tuesday, Wednesday are the best days. Early morning is best time. I think it's hilarious people go on Sunday and complain that we are so busy. Right when we open is honestly the best time to go. We get fresh produce in every morning so you can get the best products, and some stuff actually will sell out for the day around 2 to 4 p.m., including perishable and non perishable items."

Don't get caught trying to take advantage of the return policy.

Trader Joe's generous return policy allows you to return any product you didn't like, even if you already opened it, and sometimes even without a receipt. But the employees can totally tell if you're faking it and are attempting to "return" an item you just found while shopping. "For example, our vitamins can run up to about $20 for a small bottle, a customer will grab it off the shelf and come to a register claiming a refund. The company knows this happens and enforces the policy, knowing well they are being frauded. It eats at my core though. The worst kind of person."

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