Trader Joe’s Reveals Why It Will Never Sell Products Online

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(Image credit: Jeff Bukowski)

I’ve been loving listening to Trader Joe’s new podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s. It’s well-produced and the people on it are pretty funny, and it really does keep surprising me with new information. I just listened to episode four, though, and it broke my heart because they explain why they will never sell their products online.

Sure, there’s a good reason for it, but that’s probably cold comfort to those of us who don’t live near a Trader Joe’s and just want some cookie butter, lavender dryer sachets, and a bucket of dried fruit.

“The store is our brand,” at least three people repeat at the beginning of the podcast, like a mantra. They want us to go to the stores because the physical Trader Joe’s stores are an integral part of the shopping experience.

“The store is our brand,” says Joe Basalone, president of stores for Trader Joe’s. “People can’t understand, ‘Why aren’t you selling products online? How come you don’t just sell wholesale to China? They want a bunch of your products. Why don’t you just send truckloads and shiploads of products to other countries and make a bunch of money?'”

It’s good to know that at least I’m not alone in sitting at home moaning, Just take my money and send me some Everything but the Bagel seasoning! But that’s not going to happen.

“It’s like, well, because that’s not what Trader Joe’s is,” Basalone explains. “For us the store is our brand, and our products work the best when they’re sold as part of this overall customer experience within the store. And so we’re not, we’re not ready to give that up. For us the brand is too important, and the store is our brand.”

It’s true that all Trader Joe’s products seem somehow more special in the context of the store. Something about the store environment really does make me want to buy things. It’s why I can’t go into one without spending at least twice what I was intending to.

It’s a bummer that they don’t sell online, but I guess I’ll just have to wait for a visit to a place that has Trader Joe’s, or patronize one of the many middlemen who buy Trader Joe’s products in stores and resell them on Amazon and eBay.