Is the Trader Joe’s Sample Station Ever Coming Back? Here’s Everything We Know Right Now.

updated Sep 30, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Masur

Have you noticed that your trips to Trader Joe’s lately are … missing something? Me too. The ongoing silence of the sample station is deafening. Gone are the days of casually grabbing a sample of hash brown with a sample of medium-roast coffee during a morning TJ’s pit stop, followed by a sample of fried rice and a sample of wine during a casual evening grocery trip. Sound excessive? Well, that’s what a normal day pre-COVID-19 looked like for me.

As the @traderjoesampleking, I have frequently wondered what the TJ’s sample station will look like in a post-pandemic world. Will my life’s greatest joy ever return? To answer this burning question, I spoke to Kenya Friend-Daniel, PR director for Trader Joe’s, to find out more about the sample station’s fate.

When Will the Trader Joe’s Sample Station Be Back?

According to Friend-Daniel, it’s too early on in the pandemic to definitively say whether or not the sample station will return in the near future (to my grave disappointment): “I think the best answer is as the situation changes, so does our approach. Whatever we do, the safety and well-being of our Crew Members and customers will remain top of mind.” 

Unfortunately, there’s more. “Due to COVID-19, Trader Joe’s is not currently opening packages in the store for customers to sample,” Friend-Daniel told us as well. It’s true: In “the olden days,” if asked, crew members could open any package in the store for a customer to sample. Sadly, that’s not an option right now.

The one silver lining? The store’s policy on customer satisfaction remains as steadfast as ever. “Trader Joe’s has a longstanding policy on its products. If you try it and if you don’t like it, you can bring it back for a full refund. This policy is still in effect, so if you try something new and don’t like it, you can return it to the store for a full refund,” Friend-Daniel says.

While the convenience of in-store sampling is no more (for now), at least we can try new products with a satisfaction-or-money-back guarantee. In the meantime, I’ll continue to sample new products at home and bring you my thoughts/verdicts through posts here on Kitchn and on Instagram.

Other Samplings

What item are you patiently waiting to sample at Trader Joe’s?