No, Trader Joe’s employees aren’t instructed to flirt with shoppers

The specialty grocer’s CEO and vice CEO took to the retailer’s monthly podcast to dispel some rumors, including whether the chain would ever install self-checkout kiosks. (Spoiler alert: No.)
Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's has no plans to ever install self-checkout lanes. / Photo: Shutterstock

Trader Joe’s CEO Bryan Palbaum and President/Vice CEO Jon Basalone made an appearance Monday on the specialty grocer’s monthly podcast, on a mission, they said, to swat down some rumors.

Topics ranged from the humorous to the practical.

On the pressing issue of whether Trader Joe’s workers are told to flirt with shoppers, Palbaum said, “Definitively, no.”

But, he added, “We just have such a unique environment in our stores that, to go into a Trader Joe’s store and feel that everyone is genuinely interested in whether or not you are having a good day, compared to maybe perhaps other retailers, I could see how that might be misinterpreted.”

In May’s episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, the retailer reiterated that it would never branch out to e-commerce because it doesn’t make sense for its business model. On Monday’s show, Trader Joe’s eschewed another popular bit of grocery technology: Self-checkout.

A rumor that Trader Joe’s is adopting self-checkout lanes is “double false,” Palbaum said.

“It’s not fun,” he said of the self-service kiosks.

Basalone noted: “That’s as false as false can be because we believe in people and we’re not trying to get rid of our crew members for efficiency sake or whatever the … I don’t know what the reasons are people put self-checkout in.”

The Trader Joe’s execs also said they have zero plans to start having robots roaming the aisles or open an in-store restaurant.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” Basalone said. “But we’re going to grow. And so the newness comes from the new customers we’re going to be able to reach, the new products that we’re going to see on our shelves, the new opportunities for the crew members who get promoted and get to run those stores into the future … That’s where the excitement comes from.

“You know, it’s not crazy new ideas like the robot in the aisle that answers questions and helps to clean up spills. It’s simpler than that and actually more exciting than that because of that reason.”

Palbaum, formerly Trader Joe’s COO, was elevated to CEO in July following the retirement of longtime chief Dan Bane. At that time, Basalone was promoted from his post as president of stores.

Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe’s operates more than 543 grocery stores in 42 states.



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