If you're one of those Angelenos who loves your raw blue agave sweetener at a modest price (you know who you are), there's a good chance you've stood in line at a Trader Joe's once—or once a week. But let's face it, great deals on good food isn't the only reason you go there. It's about the experience, and more importantly, the people-watching.
Here are five types of folks who make people watching at a Trader Joe's on par with that of the international terminal at LAX.
1. The Two Buck Chuck Connoisseur. This is the guy/girl who knows everything about wine that has a screw-off top. The minute you walk in, you'll know this person is there immediately from the sound of Charles Shaw bottles clinking together in their shopping cart.
2. The Frozen Food Shark. Can you blame this person, really? It's not like TJ's is serving up Totino's Pizza Rolls. We're talking vegan tikka masala, quinoa & steel cut oatmeal and even gourmet meatless corn dogs. Ok, fine... I'm this person.
Photograph: Justin Cross
3. The Flower Power People. These are the folks who look frantic, disheveled and sometimes sweaty. They're making a quick Trader Joe's appearance JUST for some flowers and a TJ's brand greeting card as they are already running late for a friend's birthday. These shoppers are elusive. Look for them cutting off The Two Buck Chuck Connoisseur or stuck in line behind the Frozen Food Shark.
4. Mr. and Mrs. Samples. A relative of Sir/Madame Sips-A-Lot, this person won't stop "tasting" free sushi, organic free trade coffee and hummus. He or she makes pushing a cart at Trader Joe's like driving the 405 during rush hour. Next time you're in a log jam near the dairy section, feel free to start humming "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode and see if you can get a rise.
5. The cart commentator. Just like a relatively well-priced apartment in Santa Monica, Trader Joe's can be a cozy place. Naturally, this invites the one person who feels the need to give his or her two cents on what's in your cart: "OHMYGOD, have you tried those?" or "Ugh don't buy those. They are so good you'll regret it!" While you may feel a bit violated, just remember, everything comes with a price (even if it hasn't come in the checkout line, yet).
6. The Hawaiian T-shirt People That Are There Every Day (a.k.a. the employees). Trader Joe's cashiers, baggers, stockers and managers aren't your average grocery store employees. In fact, they're not your typical employees. Reason: they seem happy. Like genuinely happy. On my last trip to the Culver City Trader Joe's, I saw an employee give a manager a high five AND a fist bump before clocking out for lunch. I think the regular workforce can agree that something about their workplace happiness doesn't seem right. Do they make Trader Joe's brand Kool-Aid?
Did you zone out at the mention of corn dogs? Then check out the most creative dogs in town.