14 Pros and Cons of Working for Trader Joe’s

Headquartered in Monrovia, California, Trader Joe’s is an American grocery chain.

There are currently 560 stores located throughout the US, with more expansion to come.

The popularity and notoriety of Trader Joe’s stores and their products have steadily risen since the first Trader Joe’s store opened in 1967.

Over the years, their popularity has grown exponentially, as have their store locations. 

Trader Joe’s employs over 50,000 people and recorded revenue in excess of $16 billion in 2020.

Owner and company namesake Joe Coulombe first opened the Pronto Market chain of convenience stores in 1958.

Later, he re-branded as Trader Joe’s and saw the company quintuple its number of stores between 1990 and 2001. 

Currently, Trader Joe’s is one of the more notable grocery stores working towards greater sustainability by eliminating food waste.

The company donates nearly 100% of unsold food products to food banks and donation centers throughout the US. 

Let’s find out more about the ups and downs of working for this company. 

Pros of Working at Trader Joe’s

1. Great Benefits

When surveying past and present Trader Joe’s employees, they consistently point to the company benefits as some of the most enticing aspects of the job.

Company employees who are eligible for benefits can receive top-notch dental, medical, and vision coverage.  

Workers can also begin saving for the future with a 401k plan, which accepts contributions from both the company and the employee. 

2. Positive Company Culture 

Trader Joe’s prides itself on being a great place to work, based partially on the company’s attitude towards both employees and customers.

Management recognizes that without either or both of these groups, the store wouldn’t work.

Therefore, the employee is seen as a valued member of the team from the start and is encouraged to be helpful and considerate to everyone. 

Even customers can feel the relaxed attentiveness of the store’s atmosphere, as employees work to be helpful, but not overbearing.

Many past and current employees have great praise for the other individuals they have worked with, leading many to the conclusion that a positive work environment makes everyone happier and more productive. 

3. Excellent Co-Workers

As you just saw, co-workers at Trader Joe’s are often commended for their dedication and general helpfulness, as well as their positive attitudes towards each other.

Happy workers are often a sign that a company is moving in the right direction, which seems to be the case with this grocer. 

4. Approachable Management

Building a great team of employees often relies on management’s experience and decision-making processes.

Proactive management also realizes that input from the employees is critical to understanding the overall well-being of the business. 

At Trader Joe’s, employees are encouraged to create respectful, open dialogues about problems and solutions for the company and specific stores.

By having management that feels approachable and not intimidating, the entire company is able to learn and grow from each other.

Employees are also much more likely to work hard for a boss they respect instead of fear.  

5. Company Perks and Discounts

Many businesses will offer extras and incentives to their employees.

At Trader Joe’s, the emphasis is on providing healthy and nutritious food options.

Therefore, all employees receive 20% off all store items. 

Employees are also encouraged to pursue leadership training through the company and receive company promotions into managerial positions.

Employees may also be eligible for scholarship opportunities, store relocations and transfers, and even employee assistance programs. 

6. Company Sustainability

As mentioned in the opening, Trader Joe’s has worked hard to promote sustainable practices for their customers, business, and the products they sell.

From donating unsold food to community food pantries to removing unsustainable products from their shelves, the company recognizes that they have a responsibility to do more. 

Customers also play a substantial role in company sustainability decisions as public sentiment has moved Trader Joe’s to discontinue products from China, as well as products with ingredients from there.

The company has also worked to minimize plastics and styrofoam in their packaging, whenever possible. 

7. Competitive Pay

Trader Joe’s offers competitive pay rates for their employees, with opportunities for advancement and growth in the company.

The company structures its raises based on merit and performance on an annual cycle.

It is important to recognize that Trader Joe’s is competing with other grocery stores and supermarkets, so the pay rates are not as high as other professional jobs.

Although competitive, some employees may look to advance their careers faster to achieve greater earning potential.

Cons of Working at Trader Joe’s

1. Physically Challenging

One of the keys to successfully working at Trader Joe’s is the ability to work in many different roles or capacities.

All the employees, or mates, are trained to work in all parts of the store.

This is beneficial for the company and keeps employees aware of how to keep the store properly functioning. 

Since it’s a grocery store, mates will be stocking shelves, lifting and carrying boxes, and doing other physical labor.

This is in addition to customer service duties and running a register for the check-out lines.

For employees with physical impairments, there may be challenges. 

2. Seasonal Work

Some past employees have complained of being let go after a holiday or busy season.

Although unfortunate, this is not an uncommon practice.

Many companies will hire temporary workers for additional help during times when more customers are in the store.

When the season has passed, the employees showing the greatest merit or value to the team may be asked to stay, while the others are let go. 

If hired as a seasonal employee, understand what the job entails and remember that you’ll receive as much as you’re able to offer.

The harder an employee works, the better chance they’ll become full-time. 

3. Favoritism or Cronyism

Each store has its own set of interpersonal relations between employees and management.

Some experiences are stellar, whereas others have commented about working for management who played favorites or were unfair in scheduling and pay raises. 

Unfortunately, these scenarios can be common in all types of jobs. 

It’s best to remain as neutral as possible and avoid becoming embroiled in personal dramas between co-workers.

Keep track of personal achievements and successes and present them during review processes. 

4. Customer Service Pressure

One of the strengths of Trader Joe’s business model is the store knowledge and exceptional customer service each employee can provide.

At times, though, some employees have felt that the emphasis on customer service and appearing eager to help can be too great. 

Some managers have been accused of overlooking employee requests or assignments simply because the employee wasn’t acting cheerful enough.

Managerial approval shouldn’t be the only determinant for employee success, but also can’t be overlooked. 

5. Store-to-Store Inconsistencies

While most Trader Joe’s stores will operate under a consistent set of principles, there can still be an amount of personal discretion between different store managers.

Employees who have worked at more than one store location have observed that not all of the stores will look or feel the same. 

Although a lesser concern, it is possible that managerial styles or decisions could be so different that employees transferring stores may run into problems adjusting.

Other inconsistencies were more focused on certain regions of the country not having certain popular products available. 

6. Closing Shifts can be Difficult

Employees of Trader Joe’s are expected to work varying shifts with some having closing duties.

Closing the store involves re-stocking, cleaning, and basically readying the store for the next business day. 

Compared to other work schedules, the closing shift can be one of the most physically demanding.

Plus, the closing shift is the last to leave, so some employees may be finishing work at much later hours than a traditional 9-5 job. 

7. High Expectations for Some

Most employees expect to work hard and be rewarded for their efforts when annual reviews and raises come around.

Unfortunately, some ex-employees of Trader Joe’s felt as if no amount of hard work afforded them any amount of recognition or praise. 

At the same time, they reported seeing other employees receiving far more notoriety for doing far less work.

Communication with management can sometimes help the situation, although there are no guarantees.

It’s best to ask for clear directives and follow them as best you can as an employee. 

14 Pros and Cons of Working for Trader Joe’s – Summary Table

Pros of Working at Trader Joe’sCons of Working at Trader Joe’s
1. Great Benefits1. Physically Challenging
2. Positive Company Culture2. Seasonal Work
3. Excellent Co-Workers3. Favoritism or Cronyism
4. Approachable Management4. Customer Service Pressure
5. Company Perks and Discounts5. Store-to-Store Inconsistencies
6. Company Sustainability6. Closing Shifts can be Difficult
7. Competitive Pay7. High Expectations for Some

Should You Work For Trader Joe’s? 

Working for Trader Joe’s seems to offer employees a number of benefits and perks, as well as a positive and upbeat work environment.

The challenge of working throughout the store also keeps many employees engaged and focused, which can help avoid workplace burnout. 

Although there are some physical and mental challenges associated with the job, most current and past employees listed more positives than negatives, when asked about their job experiences. 

If you’ve ever shopped at Trader Joe’s and enjoyed the atmosphere, you’ll more than likely also enjoy working there, too.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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