9 Reasons People No Longer Love Trader Joe's, According to Reddit

Everyone’s favorite neighborhood grocer may be losing some of its fanbase.
Updated May 3, 2024
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trader joes sign

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With their friendly staff and funky Hawaiian shirts, Trader Joe’s has won the hearts of many shoppers, garnering a cult-like following with entire social media accounts dedicated to showcasing and reviewing new products. Most everyone agrees that Trader Joe’s is a great place to save money on groceries and score some unique finds.

Recently, though, despite its success and continual growth, long-time fans have become disenchanted with the grocer and have taken to Reddit to air their grievances.

Let’s see why people are falling out of love with Trader Joe’s.

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Produce goes bad quickly

gumpapa/Adobe mold on fresh strawberries

Reddit users across the country complain about how quickly their produce turns after they get it home from the stores. Other users say this really varies from store to store. One theory is that this may be due to many of the produce items being pre-chopped or packaged — so while it may be picked in its prime, the additional processing reduces the freshness.

Food taste bland

Grustock/Adobe woman with a dissatisfied look

Regular TJ shoppers cite that old favorites have started tasting bland in recent months. People argue that they need to “doctor” their dishes with ingredients or seasonings at home to make their Trader Joe’s items taste good. Suspicions are that recipes change due to suppliers or availability. Either way, people are not happy.

Stores are too small

Andriy Blokhin/Adobe social distancing sign

Despite being incredibly popular, Trader Joe’s seems stuck on limiting their store size. During holidays and weekends, the stores get so packed customers struggle to navigate the aisles. Some customers complain that even on a regular shopping trip, they leave frustrated every single time because of the absolute headache it is to navigate the store.

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Popular items are always sold out

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe sold-out-empty-shelf-racks

With its cult-like following, tasty Trader Joe’s items make waves and frequently sell out. Customers are not happy about having to wait weeks or months to get their favorites back in stock. Some users report being able to call ahead and check the available stock — but it's a lot of effort for kimbap or butternut squash mac and cheese.

Items are limited-edition

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe empty shelves with price tags

Trader Joe’s introduces seasonal items regularly. While this keeps people coming through the doors to try all the new products, if you find a new favorite, you might be out of luck the next time you shop. Some popular seasonal items do actually get added to the regular stock, but many are put back in the vault till the next year or longer.

Reddit users have even turned to buying their favorite products on resale sites like eBay to get their fix.

Items often discontinued

Corinna Haselmayer/Adobe cookies and sweet candy treats

Often, without notice or announcement, Trader Joe’s discontinues items. This means you can enjoy an item for years, then one day, you go to find it, and BOOM, it’s gone. Many shoppers turn to resale sites to try and obtain much-loved products.

Reddit users are even willing to purchase items past expiration just for one more taste of their beloved favorites. The biggest complaint seems to be that there is no warning or chance to stock up on the products. Shoppers are just left with a surprise unavailability.

Too much packaging

eqroy/Adobe packages of frozen gnocchi

Complaints about Trader Joe's excessive packaging materials go back years. While some users note that there have been changes in packaging materials — like switching from plastic containers to paper containers — others still find the volume of packaging to be too much, especially in the produce department.

Trader Joe’s did make a statement about its sustainability efforts back in 2021, claiming to have removed 2 million pounds of plastic from its packaging. There have been no significant updates about the sustainability efforts since.

Stores have order limits

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe trader joes-red-shopping-carts

Customers have found in talking to their stores’ employees, that headquarters actually limits the amount of certain items that each store can stock. This can cause a shortage of certain items available at individual stores — especially for new and/or popular items.

While Trader Joe’s employees on Reddit explain that this is to help spread the products around, customers find this rule frustrating when their staple products go out of stock quickly or are hard to find, or there are new seasonal items that they can’t try out.

People let their kids run loose

puhimec/Adobe mother and daughter doing grocery

Trader Joe’s strives to create a fun environment and a positive shopping experience. Locations are kid-friendly, offering stickers, lollipops, and even kid-size carts. Stores are decorated with hidden picture murals and offer treats to those who can find the hidden objects. However, not all shoppers (or employees) love how relaxed some parents are while shopping with their kids in tow.

One Redditor who works at Trader Joe’s reported that some patrons even leave their kids at Trader Joe's while they go to a store nearby.

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Bottom Line

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe flowers of trader joes

While Trader Joe’s is loved by many, there are plenty of complaints on Reddit, including an entire thread dedicated to the worst items people have tried with colorful reviews like, “Even my dogs rejected them — and they will eat almost anything.”

However, despite all the complaints, plenty of users share their enthusiasm for Trader Joe’s products that help them save money on groceries and for their unique selection, not to mention the excitement over new store locations opening nearby.

The love for Trader Joe’s expands beyond the United States, with international visitors asking for product recommendations when they come for a visit.

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Author Details

Holly Humbert Holly is a writer who recognizes that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business, and financial literacy. With more than four years of experience, her work has been featured on MarketWatch and The Ways to Wealth.

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