The Energizer

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Three Ways Trader Joe’s Rocks Resilience

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Monday, April 20, 2020
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Grocery shopping has become a nightmare. Lines snake around buildings. Food pallets are used to set up barricades that move shoppers—six feet apart—in a winding pattern like lines at Disney without an attraction at the end. Customers are masked, latex gloved, and noses bent to smart phones.

But then, there’s my favorite store: Trader Joe’s. Since 1972, this store that started in Pasadena has stood out because it didn't rely on loyalty cards, sales gimmicks, and membership fees. It’s practices—to this day—are about value to the customer.

Here they are:

  • We buy direct from suppliers whenever possible, we bargain hard to get the best price, and then pass the savings on to you.
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  • If an item doesn’t pull its weight in our stores, it goes away to gangway for something else.
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  • We buy in volume and contract early to get the best prices.
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  • Most grocers charge their suppliers fees for putting an item on the shelf. This results in higher prices... so we don’t do it.
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  • We keep our costs low—because every penny we save is a penny you save.

So, from the get-go, Trader’s has been a different breed. Now, give this current crisis, look what Trader Joe’s does to stand apart from the rest and remain resilient.

  • Have senior shopper early hours (8-9am) every day. The other stores offer it only on specific days…and some for only 30 minutes!

  • As the TJ employees sanitize the carts before giving it to you, they greet every shopper—always smiling, joking and most wearing that casual Hawaiian shirt. This goes on all day long, whether you arrive at 8 am or 5 pm.

  • Create a magic moment. Today it was a man playing a guitar and singing to the folks in line—a sing along. A few days ago, I was gifted with a bouquet of purple tulips. You get the idea.

  • A hallmark of resiliency is being able to reframe an event, to find a way of responding that is more powerful. Trader Joe’s has taken this crisis and found some ways to make small adjustments that—for the time being—offer customers respite.

Watch this video to see innnovative ways Trader Joe's deal with the current crisis.


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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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