Trader Joe’s Dress Code (Why Are They So Vibrant?)

You may have noticed this the first time you set foot in a Trader Joe’s store – they all wear colorful and vibrant Hawaiian shirts. These lively shirts are paired with their sweetest and most sincere smiles. Perhaps, it is the company’s secret for their customers to keep coming back.

Trader Joe’s employees’ outfit makes you wonder, is it Trader Joe’s dress code? If it is, why would they wear such colorful outfits? We did our little research and found that out for you.

What Is Trader Joe’s Dress Code In 2023?

Trader Joe’s employees are made to appear like intrepid traders on the culinary seas. This is why they wear vibrant and bright Hawaiian shirts as their “uniform.”

Trader Joe’s believes that grocery shopping should be enjoyable rather than a hassle; therefore, they dress casually.

Why Do Trader Joe’s Dress So Vibrant?

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Bryan Lo, general manager of the Trader Joe’ on Mission Street, South Pasadena, CA

Employees at Trader Joe’s are recognized for constantly dressing in Hawaiian garb. But there’s a purpose for it. When Joe Coulombe launched Trader Joe’s in 1967, he chose the nautical concept with deliberation.

Coulombe explained in the Trader Joe’s podcast where executives reveal company secrets, “I’d been reading a book called ‘White Shadows in the South Seas,’ and I’d been to the Disneyland jungle trip, and it all coalesced.”

Coulombe was inspired by Frederick O’Brien’s work “White Shadows in the South Seas,” which takes place on an island in the South Pacific. Because of this, all Trader Joe’s staff, referred to as “crew members,” wear Hawaiian shirts to this day.

Trader Joe’s claims on their website, “We wear Hawaiian shirts because we’re traders on the culinary seas, searching the world over for cool items to bring home to our customers.”

“And when we return home, we think grocery shopping should be fun, not another chore. So just relax and leave your worries at the door. We’ll sail those seven seas, you have some fun with our finds at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s.”

Why Are Trader Joe’s Employees So Nice?

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“Is the friendly attitude of the average Trader Joe’s employee just an act?” This question has been asked over and over again. One time, a podcast host interviewed crew members from Trader Joe’s to find out.

To begin with, Palbaum, Trader Joe’s President, admits that choosing people with “outwardly nice” dispositions is a critical aspect of the hiring process. He reminds out that “training someone to be pleasant” is tough; thus, hiring people who already have that trait is critical.

Employees at Trader Joe’s are likewise encouraged to be themselves. It may sound cliché, but not feeling like you have to be another cookie-cutter robot at work is likely to make a significant impact.

One Chicago employee, Austin, described work as “eight hours of hanging out with friends,” while another believes his boss encourages him and his coworkers to “keep being weird.”

So, what is it about Trader Joe’s personnel that makes them so nice? The reason appears to be that the company pays its employees well, and as a result, employees want to repay the favor by treating customers well. We’re in luck.

How Do You Know Trader Joe’s Employees Rank?

The different shirts symbolize different levels in the Trader Joe’s hierarchy. The store managers are the ones wearing button-down Hawaiian print shirts. There’s no reason to seek these individuals out directly unless you have a customer service issue.

The people in solid-colored t-shirts with large hibiscus flowers on the back are store employees, or “crew members” as they’re officially known (refer to cruise ship metaphor). These are the people you ask if you have any fundamental food questions.

What Does Ringing A Bell at Treader Joe’s Mean?


This question is without a doubt the most often asked from customers. Simply put, the bells are Trader Joe’s’ cheerful take on an overhead intercom system. There are three bell codes that you hear when you are in the store.

  • One bell means lines are backed up, and another register needs to be opened
  • Two bells mean the cashier requires assistance from any available crew member
  • Three bells mean a crew leader is required.

What Does A Mate Do at Trader Joe’s?

Assistant shop leaders are known as Mates. They can be promoted from within the company by Crew Members who thrive in their responsibilities. They may also be hired as well-qualified individuals from the outside. Mates provide training, advice, and growth to the Crew while working alongside them.

Is It Worth Being A Mate at Trader Joe’s?

Working at Trader Joe’s is difficult work, and many people leave sore and injured, but it’s a terrific bonding experience, and you make a lot of friends. It’s a great work environment, and you receive incredible benefits. And the advantages are favorable for a supermarket.

What Is Trader Joe’s Demographics?

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With yearly sales of approximately $14 billion, Trader Joe’s is one of the largest grocery companies in the United States.

According to data from analytics firm Numerator, the average Trader Joe’s shopper is Caucasian or Asian between the ages of 25 and 44. She usually has a bachelor’s degree or higher and earns more than $80,000 per year.

According to Numerator, the average consumer visits Trader Joe’s 13 times a year and purchases 15 items for a total of $47 per trip.

Pre-made foods like frozen dinners and salad kits, as well as brands like GT’s Living Foods and Volpi, cured meats, are popular at Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s accounts for only 2.4 percent of their spending, compared to Amazon, which accounts for 8%.

Who Are Trader Joe’s Main Competitors?

Trader Joe’s has long been known for having some of the lowest grocery costs, but that may soon change. Whole Foods Market is a new competitor that is almost as cheap.

According to a recent price check by Wedbush Securities, Whole Foods’ new chain, 365 by Whole Foods Market, is just around 4% more expensive than Trader Joe’s – and that doesn’t include 365’s loyalty program discounts.

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In 2016, the first 365 site opened in Los Angeles.

Analysts compared a basket of around 100 goods from 365 against a basket of similar things from Trader Joe’s, Sprouts Farmers Market, Vons Supermarket, and a regular Whole Foods shop.

365 was somewhat more expensive than Trader Joe’s, but it was 14% less costly than Sprouts, 31% less expensive than Vons, and 23% less expensive than a typical Whole Foods.


As if there weren’t already enough reasons to enjoy Trader Joe’s, the store’s motif is entirely tropical! Shoppers are instantly transported to island time, browsing amid hand-crafted signage, keeping an eye out for the unofficial mascot, and chatting with pleasant personnel with titles like “store captains,” “crew members,” “merchants,” and “mates.”

Trader Joe’s is well-known for providing a unique shopping experience, from free samples to a wide range of food options. Trader Joe’s lovers worldwide are sharing shopping hacks and assisting first-time Trader Joe’s shoppers, making the community a strong one.

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