The CEO of Trader Joe’s has vehemently denied longstanding rumors that staff at the supermarket have been trained to flirt with customers.
Known for their friendly customer service, various TikTok‘s, online articles and popular internet personalities have been trying to substantiate the claims.
When asked about the notion on the company’s podcast about the rumors, CEO Bryan Palbaum said: ‘Definitively, no.’
‘I think we just have such a unique environment in our stores that, to go into a Trader Joe’s store and feel that everyone is genuinely interested in whether or not you are having a good day, compared to maybe perhaps other retailers.
‘I could see how that might be misinterpreted.’
The supermarket chain is known for its friendly customer service which has spawned social media rumors that workers have been trained to flirt with customers
On the same episode, Trader Joe’s president and vice CEO Jon Basalone added: ‘That’s just what niceness feels like.’
Shayne Jones, an employee who works at a store in San Francisco, told SFGATE that flirting was not in the employee handbook.
Jones told the outlet: ‘They tend to hire pretty effervescent people. Like I would flirt if I could, but honestly if they trained me to flirt I’d probably be pulling more people than I am now.’
Trader Joe’s CEO Bryan Palbaum, pictured here, has shut down longstanding rumors that staff have been trained to flirt with customers
She continued: ‘I feel like after COVID, I think that everybody was kind of like, ‘Wow, how do we socialize? Like, what does this social cue mean?
‘They really do encourage us to be ourselves and like, you know, have genuine interactions with people.
‘So good conversations … who knows? They can lead other places.’
In 2021, a Glamour article asked eight current and former Trader Joe’s employees whether they had been trained to flirt.
The answer from all of those was that they had not been but, but had been encouraged to occasionally give away flower bouquets or candy bars to customers.
In a 2020 YouTube video, popular internet personality Emma Chamberlain mentioned the urban legend.
She said: ‘I’ve been seeing this thing on TikTok talking about how the cashiers at Trader Joe’s are like trained to flirt with you. Is this true?’
In a TikTok video with more than 2.3 million views, social media star Daniel Bennett asks a person off-screen who identifies as a Trader Joe’s employee if he flirts with his customers.
One employee who works at a store in San Francisco, told SFGATE that flirting was not in the employee handbook
The rumor had been widely shared on social media pages and TikTok videos shared by popular personalities
‘Yeah, if they’re hot,’ the person replies. ‘Usually whatever they’re getting, I’ll just tell them that’s my favorite.’
It comes after the company also put another conspiracy theory regarding small parking lots to bed.
In a interview on the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, VP of Marketing Tara Miller said fans’ farfetched ideas – and memes – are entertaining but incorrect.
‘People out there in the world really seem to think — not all people, but a number of people — that we are purposefully making horrible parking lots,’ she continued.
According to Miller, the number of parking spaces is determined by how large each Trader Joe’s location is, and most locations tend to be fairly small.
The company was founded in 1967 by Joe Coulombe in Pasadena, California, and now has 560 stores across the country.
It is among the largest grocery chains, with annual sales estimated to be around $16.5 billion, according to Business Insider.
Analytics firm Numerator found that the typical customer visits Trader Joe’s 13 times per year, and picks up 15 products for a total cost of $41.69 per trip.
Trader Joe’s has relatively high customer turnover among the major brands surveyed, second only to Whole Foods, with just over three-quarters of its 2021 shoppers returning in 2022.