This Grocery Delivery Service Actually Works at Trader Joe’s — Here’s Everything You Need to Know

updated Jul 28, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Masur

Over the past few months, I’ve deeply researched pretty much every single grocery delivery and food subscription service in existence. Figuring out the ins and outs of AmazonFresh, Instacart, FreshDirect, FoodKick, Ship’t, and many more has basically become my full-time job (makes sense considering I edit all Grocery content for Kitchn!). And while each service has its own merits and flaws, one major downside stood out above the rest: None of these services could help me get my Trader Joe’s fix. This is a big deal because, as many of you regular readers know, I used to go to Trader Joe’s on a daily basis back before the start of the pandemic.

Because that’s not an option for me anymore (as I no longer live in my apartment two blocks away!), I’ve simply done without favorites that I used to pick up every trip. (I’m looking at you, Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups, Soft & Juicy Dried Mango, Mochi Bites, Frozen Brown Rice, Elote Corn Chip Dippers, and Chicken Gyoza Potstickers.) But at long last, my TJ’s dry spell ended when I learned about Dumpling.

What is Dumpling and how does it work?

Dumpling is a grocery delivery service (founded in 2017) that now has more than 2,000 shoppers in all 50 states. The premise is simple: Connect directly with a personal shopper in your area and place orders from any local grocery store near you (including TJ’s). Within the app, users can curate a list and add custom notes to each item.

After downloading the app, I entered my zip code and connected with Ryan, a shopper with super reviews who delivers to the NYC tri-state area. His availability is clearly listed on his profile in addition to the stores he frequents: Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods, Aldi, HMart, Wegmans, BJ’s, ACME, Petco, Target, Stop & Shop, Shop Rite, and Trader Joe’s.

Credit: Lauren Masur

How much does it cost?

Unlike with other delivery services, Dumpling personal shoppers are considered small business owners. They set their own rates and build relationships with clients to help determine preferences over time. Some shoppers charge a flat delivery fee, or a percentage of the total order, in addition to a tip. All fees are made transparent within the app before order date and time is confirmed. Price gouging and the shameful practice of tip gouging is not even a possibility. According to a Dumpling representative, shoppers make $33 on average per grocery trip, which is 3 times the rate of other major delivery services.

All in all, my $111.10 TJ’s haul cost $163.32 with a $25 shopping and delivery fee plus a 20 percent tip ($27.22). While that is certainly pricier than other services, Dumpling provides an extremely ethical model of grocery delivery that both shoppers and clients can feel good about. As many gig-workers are continuously exploited and underpaid, I am happy to know that there is a better option to choose when selecting a grocery delivery service.

Credit: Lauren Masur

My Experience with Dumpling

I can’t say enough good things about my personal shopper! (Hi, Ryan!) While he was in TJ’s, he texted me about anything he could not find to make sure I approved of any swaps or price changes first. The attention to detail did not go unnoticed. He was communicative and delivered (nearly) everything I asked for and, just as importantly, nothing I didn’t ask for.

Because the price is fairly steep, I definitely would consider Dumpling more of a “treat yourself” moment that provided a much-needed pick-me-up and reunion with my beloved Trader Joe’s. I can’t afford to use this exclusively or all that often, but I will plan to use it every once in a while for a big order.

One note: While Dumpling has expanded services twentyfold since COVID began and has a presence in all 50 states, the app does not service every zip code. That said, as demand for grocery delivery ramps up, I recommend continuously checking back to see if there are any personal shoppers near you.

Have you ever used Dumpling to have your groceries delivered?