Why Do They Ring the Bell at Trader Joe’s?

Why do they ring the bell at Trader Joe's? Just like the cult-favorite grocery store itself, the reason is pretty charming.

Imagine this: You’re strolling down the colorful aisles of Trader Joe’s. You’ve researched the sweet chili sauce, the most-searched Trader Joe’s item in the country, and now you’re turning your dream into realization. After that, it’s Mandarin orange chicken you’re after—the number one Trader Joe’s product, according to customers. And then suddenly, the sound of a loud, charming, mystifying bell tolls throughout the tiki-themed store. And then another…and another.

No, you’re not hallucinating. We’re here to answer even some of the most loyal shoppers’ question.

Why do they ring the bell at Trader Joe’s?

Those tolls actually have significant meaning. The large brass bells are used to communicate with staff members throughout the store when help is needed. (Fun fact: The store actually got the idea of using nautical ship bells to communicate from maritime traders.)

According to the Trader Joe’s website:

“The bells are a kind of Trader Joe’s Morse code. Those blustery PA systems just didn’t feel right to us, so we came up with a simple system to communicate, à la our maritime (Trader’s on the culinary seas) association. One bell lets our Crew know when to open another register. Two bells mean there are additional questions that need to be answered at the checkout. Three bells call over a manager-type person. And three short bells—two long bells—three short bells…now we’re just playing.”

So, there you have it. The Trader Joe’s bell is a charming way to communicate with the hardworking staff so the shopping experience remains just that—an experience. Here are 10 other things Trader Joe’s employees want you to know.

P.S.: Did you know your kids should be looking for animals at TJ’s?

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Ceara Milligan
Ceara Milligan is an avid people fan and an unabashed brand geek. Her true passion lies within research, where she unveils consumer, brand, and industry insights and discovers the many ways in which people shop, communicate, search, and design a unique presence both online and offline. She loves staying informed about trends that affect the outlook of businesses every single day. She has extensive experience in developing digital and brand strategies and inspiring creativity across all channels and touchpoints. She has implemented strategies for brands in various industries, including healthcare, agriculture, food and beverage, travel and tourism, CPG, nonprofit, insurance, financial services, beauty, education, retail, B2B, and automotive. Ceara graduated cum laude from Marquette University in 2012, where she studied Marketing, Information Technology, and Advertising. When she isn't in marketer mode, Ceara can be found listening to Third Eye Blind, cheering on Marquette Golden Eagles basketball, playing trivia, petting strangers' dogs, and baking up a storm.