Why Trader Joe's Doesn't Charge By The Pound For Produce

If you haven't noticed by now, Trader Joe's is a quirky store. The Pasadena, California-founded supermarket chain has always done things a little differently than most supermarkets, a trend that's still going strong more than five decades after it opened its first location (via Reader's Digest). There are those Hawaiian shirts its employees wear, for starters; then there's the fact that each and every store has a plastic lobster somewhere inside (via Today). TJ's doesn't sell very many brand-name items, instead packaging items under its house label, which translates into savings for customers (via Eat This, Not That!).

Something else you might have noticed when shopping at Trader Joe's is that the store doesn't sell produce by the pound and instead charges per item (via The Daily Meal). That makes TJ's an outlier in the supermarket world, where basically every other chain charges by the pound. So why the policy difference at Trader Joe's? Read on to find out.

TJ's is being upfront about what you'll pay at the register

When shopping at most grocery stores, you'll pay by the pound for common produce items. But at Trader Joe's, produce is sold by the piece or package. Why does TJ's employ such different pricing? It's simple: According to The Daily Meal, the store just wants its customers to have a solid idea of what they'll pay once they check out.

Paying by the pound can be confusing. Unless you have an accurate sense of what a pound actually feels like, you might think you're loading your cart with a certain weight of, say, zucchini, only to find out at the register that you're buying 2 pounds, not one. Trader Joe's stores want you to have a clear sense of what your bill will be before you get to check out, which is why they charge per produce item and not by weight, according to The Daily Meal.

Sometimes, the price per item at TJ's sounds more expensive. But as a store manager, Jack, explained on the an episode of the store's podcast, this price often winds up being cheaper (via The Daily Meal). "[Trader Joe's Honeycrisp apples] were much more reasonable than our competitors, but a competitor sold by the pound and it sounded cheap," Jack said. "[That store] was going to charge them almost $8 for a bag of four apples, where ours would cost much less than that. That's something we're very proud of."