The Reason Why Trader Joe’s Sells 19-Cent Bananas Is So Sad

Our beloved Trader Joe’s. Well praised for providing fresh produce, delicious cuts of meat and other unique grocery choices that can only be found in-store. Not to mention the price point! Trader Joe’s easily beats the prices at some other chain grocery stores, while also offering creative food options (catering to equal parts healthy and… not so healthy) that you won’t find at your local corner market (cc: their blueberry covered goat cheese, NOM). They’ve expanded to over 470 locations and counting, not bad for a once small & eclectic Southern California convenience store am I right?

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In most recent news, Trader Joe’s has expanded their reach to the digital world, launching a five-installment podcast titled “Inside Trader Joe’s,” in which a handful of employees (including the chairman and CEO Dan Bane) discuss where and how the company started, spilling interesting behind the scenes moments that essentially shaped the grocery store into what is it today. This creative approach to reaching and speaking to its customers has been widely praised since its launch last week, and with good reason! Within each podcast, they answer the questions that you didn’t even know you had about the establishment, like whether they’ll ever open an online store so you don’t have to be a part of the parking lot war that will inevitably occur…every time.

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One particular tid bit of information that will give you some feeeeeeeels was shared by CEO Dan Bane and involves a product that is consumed by a fair amount of people in the world: bananas. While I’ve never met someone who blatantly hates bananas, I’m sure they do exist, but this isn’t about them. This is about why Trader Joe’s sells bananas individually, and not only that, but why they have consistently charged only 19 cents per banana for the last decade.

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It all started with the choice to not include scales in their grocery stores, which is generally needed in order to weigh food that is priced per pound. As an alternative, Trader’s made the decision to sell their bananas in pre-priced packages of four +, because who buys just ONE banana? Usually you’ll buy a few, some riper than others to evenly spread them out over the next few days, making sure you get all your potassium intake to start your morning, or continue your afternoon. While this tactic seemed to work for the majority, there was one specific event that occurred down the line, inevitably changing the course of not just pricing, but also packaging requirements forever.

Bane continues to share either a heart-warming or tear-jerking (we can’t decide which) story about a valued, elderly customer who came to shop one day, who gave feedback on their produce choices. According to Bane, she was looking at the packages of bananas, contemplating purchasing a bag, ultimately deciding against it altogether. When Bane approached the woman to ask why she chose to pass on her purchase, she replied, “Sonny, I may not live to that fourth banana.” Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who felt that in their hearts just now.

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Following this encounter (literally the next day), they decided to change up how they sold bananas. And so now, over a decade later, they continue to sell their bananas individually, and for only 19 cent apiece. Talk about taking customer feedback and actually implementing it!

And this is why we forever love Trader Joe’s and all they represent. So keep them in mind the next time you head out for groceries, and also check out some super helpful ways to save money on groceries that match well with Trader’s already low price point.

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