Trader Joe’s is amazing. If you haven’t been, they inhabit the space between Whole Foods and your local supermarket and offer high quality items at a really affordable price. If you live near one, you quickly join the Cult of Trader Joe’s and can’t fathom buying packaged trail mix or pasta anywhere else. If you don’t live near one, you have to resort to other means. Until this morning, I had no idea that those other means involved a robust gray market of TJ’s goods on Amazon and eBay.
I was searching for a Mother’s Day gift and searched for toffee since my mom is pretty fond of the stuff. One of the results caught my eye: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee. What was a Trader Joe’s product doing on Amazon? I clicked on it and then again on the “By Trader Joe’s” link and, like the door to Narnia, a whole new world opened up. A massive selection of Trader Joe’s packaged goods was available. My mind was spinning. Did Amazon partner with TJoe’s? Was the rest of the country with no access to Trader Joe’s about to have their worlds rocked?
The Trader Joe’s selection on Amazon (as well as eBay) comes entirely through resellers. These are people who buy the products from Trader Joe’s itself then turn around and sell it online for a major mark-up.
See those prices? They’re really hefty. $16 for a jar of coconut oil is a LOT of money, even though shipping is technically free. At the store, each 16oz. jar is only $6. Is it really worth an extra $10 to someone to get that jar shipped to you? Maybe.
People LOVE Trader Joe’s and go to extremes to get their hands on those cheap but delicious goods. When I was down in Hawaii, the topic of Trader Joe’s came up with someone and I was surprised to find out that she actually has her daughter buy and send her TJ’s products since she can’t get them in Hawaii. In California, they’re everywhere and I’m lucky enough to live in walking distance of one, which means I’m there A LOT. It’s just one of those things — like CrossFit and kale — that people get really invested in. If you like Trader Joe’s, you REALLY like Trader Joe’s and you tend to talk about it a lot. If you don’t have access to it, I guess it’s worth it to some people to pay a severe premium to get those goods you just can’t get on your own.
Would you ever buy Trader Joe’s products from Amazon or eBay? Let me hear about it in the comments.