104 Comment

  • This club has everything! Security on their phones, tiny parking spaces, chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels, HAWAIIAN SHIRTS!

  • I commented to a check-out guy one time about the line being the longest i’d every seen it (the end started where the samples are) and he said that earlier in the day they had to shut the front doors 3-4 times because the line was all the way to the front door and they couldn’t fit anymore people in.

  • It’s getting crazy up in there. I went this morning at 8:00 when it usually isn’t crowded and there was still a good line. I guess it’s the holidays!

  • I’ve always wondered who’d actually wait in line to ENTER a grocery store… Why?

    • Yuppies need their artisanal pickles!

      • Ummm, wrong spot. Nothing artisanal at TJs… Your comment might have a chance of being funny if this post was about Union Market and a couple years old.

    • “I’ve always wondered who’d actually wait in line to ENTER a grocery store… Why”

      THIS…the only place in the world where I’ve ever waited to get into a grocery store was a rural town in Vietnam in the 80’s, where it was the only grocery “store” for 20 miles in any direction. It just seems weird that with the plethora of options, that people value their time so little on such a regular basis to stand in line to get into your run of the mill grocery store.

      • Yep… I wonder this about a lot of things. Why people make an 80-minute round trip out to Wegmans for basic groceries… why people stand in line for hours to get into a certain unremarkable restaurant… Silly amounts of time are being wasted either waiting for things or traveling to things that are not worth the sacrifice.

      • justinbc

        This comment seems rather oblivious. Let’s say you walk the 10-15 minutes it takes you to get to TJ, you get there and the line is out the door. If you “value your time” so much, what are you supposed to do? Walk another 15-20 minutes to the next grocery store, or wait in the line for the place you actually wanted to go? What if the thing you want is only available at that one store? Then there’s no other option. I wonder more why people care so much about what strangers do with their own time.

        • SouthwestDC

          “What if the thing you want is only available at that one store?”
          THAT is the reason people go to Trader Joe’s. They have a lot of unique junk foods that you can’t get anywhere else, and apparently they’re quite addictive so people are willing to put up with a lot of hassle to get their fix. They’re not there for regular groceries.

        • I agree with Justin. Especially on the location. That is the only Trader Joe’s in that immediate area. The next closest store is Whole Foods. If given the choice of waiting 10-15 minutes for Trader Joe’s or going to Whole Paycheck, i’d wait for Trader Joe’s.

    • lindz0722

      At this particular store, anyway, the line at checkout in the afternoon can often be 15-20 minutes long. Given the option, I’d rather stand in line for 10 minutes before it opens, get in and get my stuff without navigating through a crowd of people ambling through the shelves, and then have virtually no wait at checkout.

  • Gosh, we’ve all gotten so boring!

  • Mug of Glop

    I tried to go on Sunday afternoon like a newbie and the line was all the way to the entrance. I just turned around and left.

    • Why the heck is it so crowded on a random Sunday morning. WTF? Was this right when they were about to open?
      I’ve been to this TJs at least 30 times and I’ve never seen a line out the door. The longest I’ve seen it is in the pasta aisle

  • I used to go to the West End one back in the day on Sundays like an idiot, but if you have someone with you. You just get in line when you enter – the person you are with just shops around and brings things to the cart and by the time its ready to check out you are finishing up.

    • andddd that makes you the worst kind of human

      • But I think most people do that. Even as a single person I grab things in aisles that the line isn’t in, and then grab the rest as I move around….

      • How? I think that makes Dogg the best kind of human – the SMART kind who sees a system, plays 100% by the rules, and still manages to find efficiency in it. Cutting in line? That’s evil. One person saving a spot in line for five different friends who are all shopping at the same time? Evil. Having one person stand in line while the other one shops for both of them? That’s a good understanding of time management.

        • i wouldn’t necessarily agree that it’s “100% playing by the rules.” it’s just plain rude. you’re not more important than everyone else who is going grocery shopping. it’s entitled behavior.

          the only thing worse is the single person who leaves their cart/basket in line. which i will push aside.

          • It isn’t rude, and it isn’t entitled. There is a line. You must wait in the line to pay for your items. Both you and the party with a line stander and a shopper are doing exactly that. It is rude to tack in extra ten items in the express lane. It is rude to leave an inanimate object like a cart to hold your place. But this is Trader Joes, not a restaurant where everyone in your party must be present to be seated, because you taking up a table while you wait half an hour for someone means other diners can’t use that table. If the line waiter gets to the front and the shopper isn’t back, they’re not going to tell everyone to wait while open registers just sit idle for the person to get there. You still have to wait behind the person in front of you, if they have an extra person adding things in or not. Adding in extra *customers* is rude – but if one person is in the line and then they have another person join them, it has not inconvenienced you in any way, as long as that one person still represents one transaction.
            What is “entitled” is thinking that because you went through the store, gathered your items, and *then* went to wait in line, everyone else must also do so, even though you chose the most inefficient method. YOU are not more important than everyone else.

          • I honestly don’t see how this is entitled or rude. Would you rather wait behind two people with separate shopping carts? This is how everyone shops at TJs, both single people (who grab things while waiting in line) and couples (where one waits in line while the other person grab other items). If anything, it cuts down on the number of people trying to navigate the crowded store at the same time.

          • The Op Anon: No. This is not how everyone shops at TJ.

      • Why is that a bad thing? I think it’s a brilliant idea actually. They aren’t taking away anyone’s spot in line. I usually shop solo so obviously I couldn’t pull this tactic off, but if I went with a partner I totally would do it.

      • Sorry, I have to disagree. No one is cutting the line; someone is still doing his/her time on line.
        And calling the other person “the worst kind of human” is the worse kind of hyperbole.

        • Seriously, this person would die if they saw how people shopped at TJ’s in the suburbs.

          • I am loving every second of this thread. We have spent a lot of time thinking about TJ’s, y’all. We didn’t have TJs where I grew up so I had no idea. Good for us!

      • As a TJ’s employee, I can tell you that we wholeheartedly support that kind of behavior. Makes it easier for everyone.

  • But why are they in line? Are they waiting for it to open? I’ll admit that I’ve never understood the excitement for Trader Joe’s in general, but this just seems absurd.

    • Agreed that this is dumb, but I’d rather stand outside than make jerky circles around a parking lot filled with road rage and shopping carts like our suburban neighbors.

      • +1. I went last night and while the line wasn’t out the door it did snake back to the pantry goods aisle, and I was actually reflecting how much I prefered standing in line, sipping complementary coffee and checking out the aisles than wasting that same amount of time stuck in a car in rush hour traffic raging about people cutting me off and red lights.

        • +1. I usually don’t mind standing in line at TJ’s since they tend to go pretty quickly and you can grab things as you go through the line. But when I want frozen items, it’s making it tough to stand in line that long…. my stuff gets all melted or frosty by the time I get out of the line and get it home.

      • Lol, I was just gonna say maybe they could not go on Sunday, or, just go to one of the many grocery stores located within like a mile of this one. Still, the picture you painted of a road ragey suburban grocery store parking lot made me smile.

      • But no lines and no rage-filled parking lots at the Giant at City Market at O Street – and they have plenty of self-check out machines, so you can get out quickly, too.

        • have you comparison shopped though? my 150 giant bill comes out to about 110 at tjs.

          • SouthwestDC

            That’s probably because you have to go to another grocery store to get the things Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry.

          • I guess it depends on how you eat. I went from spending at least $70 a week in my old neighborhood (Whole Foods for meat and produce, Safeway w/ coupons for other stuff) to spending around $40 at TJ’s and getting everything for the week but my meat (which is never more than ~$10 at Whole Foods). Savings at TJ’s are real unless you’re really looking for specifics.

          • houseintherear

            Just as a comparison, the bags of chopped Brussels sprouts at TJs are seriously about half the price of the same sized bags at the Teet. They have deals, and sometimes the line is worth it!

          • on the rare occasion I can’t find something at TJs, I just order it on amazon. Its very very seldom, and usually something not too pricey, most recent example I can think of was mustard powder. But I don’t eat processed food really, so meat, vegetables, and almond milk are all commonly found at tjs.

          • Why would you chop Brussels sprouts? That defeats the whole purpose of them! If you really want to save money, get green cabbage which would be interchangeable in a chopped role.

          • You don’t really eat processed food, except almond milk, but you shop at Trader Joe’s? Whyyyyy?

          • Yeah, I only found it worthwhile to shop at TJ’s on weeks where I didn’t have time to cook, or if I needed wine/cheese/snack stuff on my way to a party. They have a lot of frozen and semiprepared stuff that is good. I think that’s what a lot of people tend to go there for. However, I hated the produce (do they still have the plastic wrapped veggies?) and meat sections (how many varieties of chicken sausage does one need? my answer: ZERO).

          • i buy non-processed foods at TJs because its cheap. idk what you mean by plastic wrapped veggies? I don’t buy those. Their frozen meat section is awesome.

          • You said you buy veggies there. Do you only buy the frozen ones? Otherwise there’s no way you could avoid all the shrink-wrapped ones in the produce aisle.

          • do you mean like the zucchini? those are the only ones I can think of in plastic wrap. Other than vegetables in bags? For example, last week I bought apples, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, onions, off the top of my head, and none were in plastic wrap.

          • SouthwestDC

            It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but yeah, something like zucchini would be shrink wrapped, peppers and tomatoes would be on a Styrofoam tray and covered in plastic wrap in the manner of meat, veggies that would take 20 seconds to cut up would be pre-cut and sealed in a bag, etc. Maybe they’ve gotten better about that, but I can’t imagine the selection’s gotten better since they have limited space. If I try to do a normal grocery run at Trader Joe’s there’s always some produce and baking supplies that they don’t have (and since those are pretty much the only things I buy it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to shop there). They do have nice bouquets of flowers, I’ll give them that.

          • peppers are individual now, in baskets like you’d see at giant or safeway. I don’t like tomatoes so can’t say for those. They do sell some prechopped vegetables but most you can also buy whole.

        • But it can also be super inconvenient to head to another neighborhood to shop. Especially if you don’t have a car. Or as mentioned upthread, you are in the market for Trader Joe’s brand items.

    • I used to love it, then I found out I could get peanut butter stuffed pretzels other places too.

  • I think it’s because of the transition to chip-friendly credit card machines. I was there a few weeks ago and the checkout guy said they had to lock the doors for a while because it was adding about a minute to each credit card transaction.

    Given that all merchants have to make this transition soon, you hope this isn’t the normal experience.

    • TJ’s transition to the chip is awful. It takes SO long

    • I do in theory like chip-based cards, but yes they are slow.

    • +1. TJ has such efficient cashiers that I really think this “upgrade” is the case. Formerly, I had already swiped, PIN’ed, and opted yes/no on cash back before my last item was scanned, only had to say yes to the final amount. The other day, I used my one non-chip card there as an experiment. Even with an older card, you now can’t swipe until the end and the processing time seems to take just as long as a chip transaction. I know it’s safer, but every time the abrupt slowdown reminds me of the elevator scene in Blues Brothers.

      • The employees were warning people that it was going to take longer when they first switched because of the fact no one can swipe until everything is scanned. I know it’s driving them crazy, too…. Trader Joe’s management way at the top needs to work on their system. (Then again, even long lines at Trader Joe’s often go way faster than short lines for a cashier at places like Giant, so…)

      • I’ve used chip for a long time at stores like Wal-Mart and target, and this sort of slowdown isn’t happening. I’ve counted it at about 20 sec of processing time in these places. Tj is a tiny grocery store and maybe their particular program is slower than average. I don’t think simply using chip is causing all the issues.

        • Agreed with the chip not causing all the issues.
          I go to this Trader Joe’s at least twice a week, and while the line has always been long (even before the chip) this is the first week I’ve ever seen the line wound so far through the store on more than one visit. And the chip software has been in place for at least a month now. Something else is going on……

          • It’s called the holidays… friendsgivings and holiday parties galor!

            Also, the lines and crowds are typically at a minimum on Saturday/Sunday mornings

        • A minute is a bit much, but I’ve noticed quite a bit of difference at Target now that they have moved to using the chip reader instead of swiping. Before, I could swipe my card and finish out the transaction and move to helping bag items while the cashier finished ringing up my order. Now, you have to wait for them to finish and the system still takes a long time to simply read the card. Seems like the technology should be there and we should be able to finish the transaction prior to them ringing up the final item (like before).

    • Use Apple Pay or Android Pay. They accept it and the transaction takes seconds.

  • I live on the block next to where they’re building the Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s. Should I be expecting people standing in front of my house in the morning?

    • If you live on that block, don’t you have to deal with the Saturday/Sunday Eastern Market foot traffic anyway? It shouldn’t be any different than that since this photo was taken on (and many of the anecdotes of lines are from) a Sunday morning.

      • I like all the people walking by. But I’m not sure I’d like people parked in front of my house like this.

      • SouthwestDC

        Nope, not like this at all. I live on 8th and the foot traffic is really no different on the weekends than on any other day of the week.

    • Yes, definitely expect it. Maybe even prepare for it ahead of time by brewing extra coffee and handing out samples to people like me!
      Nah, I would dig grubs from my garden before I waited on line at a Trader Joe’s. Except when they host a soft-opening. I’ll stand on line for free stuff any day of the week.

    • Huh? Get a grip, you’ll be fine. You’re worried that you might have to see grocery shoppers near your house? Unless you literally share an entrance with the Trader Joe’s it’s hard to see how this could possibly be anything but among the most trivial of all inconveniences.

      • SouthwestDC

        I think it would stress out my dogs to have people standing right in front of our house (but mine’s hopefully far enough away that the line wouldn’t make it up there). Wouldn’t the entrance be on the nonresidential 7th Street side anyway?

        • The entrance comment was more my point, haha. Maybe the builders will find some way to surprise me, but I can’t picture any scenario where an entrance will butt up against residential property.

  • DUDE. I wanted to buy ice cream last night at 8pm and the line was all the way over in produce so I just walked out. It wasn’t this bad right after they switched to the chip reader system, although I’m sure that’s making it worse…. What has been UP this week?

    • I agree, i think it’s the CHIP reader. Stores are now forcing anyone with a chip to use it (instead of the swipe), due to changes in the merchant-processor agreements. In cases of fraud and stolen cards, the card processors will only refund the merchant if they require use of the chip. If the merchant accepts the swipe, the merchant has to eat the fraudulent charges.
      I expect TJs will pull these chip readers from the registers very soon. It’s totally screwing up their operational model. The only reason people will tolerate the line is because it moves quickly and efficiently.

    • west_egg

      I stopped by a TJ’s in the ‘burbs this week and the lines there were far, far worse than I’ve ever seen them. When I got to the front the cashier rang up my items and then credit card system straight-up crashed–as in, blank screen for two minutes before finally saying “insert card.” The cashier said, “yeah, this happens sometimes.” So it seems like the issue is some combination of the EMV transactions (which take longer), TJ’s system (which appears to be flaky) and the fact that I still see customers who don’t quite understand how it works (“Nonono, leave your card *in the machine* until it tells you to remove it…let’s try again…”).

  • At the risk of ruining a good thing, I’ve found that Thursday evening at 9:00 is a great time to shop at this particular TJ’s. No crowds and minimal lines.

  • As insane as it would be to actually *do* this, this does make me wonder if maybe building another Trader Joes across the street might not be a bad plan…

    • Or another neighborhood in the city! Both TJ’s locations in DC are always swamped because they’re the only two in the city. The one at Eastern Market can’t open soon enough for those of us in NE.

  • It’s not a line to check out, it’s a line to get in… they have a capacity limit that they have to enforce.

    • Ah, I assumed that the line was long enough in the store that people wouldn’t be able to get to the end of it to check out — thus keeping people outside.

  • Is it that deep??? Really??

  • maxwell smart

    You haven’t experienced Trader Joes and lines until you attempt to shop at one in New York City, in particular the one on 14th street (which has it’s own separate TJ’s Wine Shop) or the one in Brooklyn on a Sunday afternoon.

  • By the way, there is a locally-owned grocery store located just two blocks from TJs. It’s near the corner of 15th and U Streets. They carry produce, meat, wine/beer, frozen foods, and everything else you want. I shop there all of the time, and I’m sure they would appreciate the business. And there are no long lines!

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