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7 Tips to Help You Survive Rush Hour at Trader Joe’s

Well, it’s Sunday. You’ve been telling yourself to go to the grocery store since Friday; yet here you are, staring into a sad-looking pantry containing nothing but a brown banana and a can of black beans. You glance at the clock – 5:36 p.m. You have no choice. From Trader Joe to Trader Ming, they’re all calling your name. You have to go. You say a prayer.

If you’ve ever been to Trader Joe’s on a Sunday afternoon or evening, you know it’s pretty much pure chaos, flooded with a combination of shopping carts and starving college kids in over-sized sweatshirts. Yes, a solution to this madness could be to simply not shop at Trader Joe’s during this time. However, we know that idea is absurd because procrastination is a very real thing, and you will, no doubt, wait until rush hour to go to Trader Joe’s. So, we’ve put together a guide to help you get in and out as fast as possible.

1. Look for parking by Starbucks

It’s not just the inside of Trader Joe’s that’s hectic; it’s the outside too. To avoid wasting time searching for a spot near Trader Joe’s (and the possibility of hitting an unlucky shopper), park to the left by Starbucks instead. You may have to walk a little farther to the store, but it might just end up saving you more time overall.

2. Know exactly what you want to get

Making a list may seem kind of old school, but there’s a reason moms do it. Imagine being next in line to check out and realizing you forgot the one thing you actually came here for is actually tragic. Making a list, even on your phone if that’s easier, will save you so much time and protect you from aimless wandering.

3. Don’t give in to distractions

This leads us to our next point: don’t get distracted. Yes, Trader Joe’s is a magical store which is quite possible to peruse for a very long time, but don’t do it. See the sample table? Look away, quickly. See someone you know? Just smile and wave, smile and wave. Keep your head down and focus on the list. Be the list. Be the list…

4. Follow the flow

Do you usually hit the frozen foods before the fruit? Think again. Do your best to follow the flow of carts and hungry shoppers. There is nothing worse than a grocery store traffic jam.

5. Save the busiest aisle for last

While all aisles are insanely busy, try to save the busiest one for last. Chances are the checkout line will be severely backed up into the aisle, so while you wait in line, you can grab any food you still need as you slowly move forward.

6. Do not pass through the checkout lines

Remember the flow? Don’t break the flow, and especially don’t try to cut through the overly crowded checkout lines to get to where you want to go. You’ll get frustrated, other people will get frustrated; it’s a riot waiting to happen.

7. Start bagging your own groceries

Do what? Yes, you read that correctly. If you have a lot of groceries and not a lot of time, you can help your probably flustered grocer by getting the job started for him or her. Chances are they’ll end up taking over and you’ll get out of there a whole lot faster.

Happy shopping!

Gabby is a fourth-year Marketing and Statistics student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She's currently the Marketing & PR Director for HCCP, as well as a writer and editor. Her passions include consuming unhealthy amounts of coffee, idealizing her life on Pinterest, and all things breakfast-related.
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