The first location of the grocery chain opened in Pasadena, CA in 1967.
Trader Joe’s is celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend by inviting customers to a series of in-store parties. On August 19th and 20th, Trader Joe’s will host product tastings and giveaways, and a limited-edition reusable tote will also be available for just 50 cents.
Trader Joe’s opened its first location in Pasadena, California on August 25, 1967, which remains open today. Since then, the chain has expanded to 467 stores in 41 states. Employees first started wearing their signature Hawaiian shirts around 1969, and as late as 1978, the grocery store was still selling pantyhose, of all things. The chain further developed its reputation for eccentricity when they began decorating its stores with plastic lobsters in 1976. It wasn’t until 1988 that Trader Joe’s finally began to expand outside of Southern California. And for all those fans of that signature Charles Shaw wine—lovingly referred to as “Two Buck Chuck”—the bottles were first stocked on TJs shelves back in 2002.
Though Trader Joe’s signature snacks are beloved for being delicious as well as inexpensive, a report from Eater recently revealed some of the well-known companies have been supplying Trader Joe’s with food, which is then repackaged under the store's in-house brand. For instance, Trader Joe’s classic hummus spread contains the exact same ingredients as the hummus made by Tribe Mediterranean foods. The same goes for its mango smoothies—they’re identical to Naked’s Mighty Mango smoothie.
If anything, these revelations just mean we're getting products that cost more at competing stores, which is all the more reason Trader Joe's has lines of devotees snaking around the entire store just to get to the register, or bumper to bumper traffic in the parking lots. Of course, if you arrive too late in the day, the shelves may be picked clean.
Luckily, fifty years on, Trader Joe's continues to expand and, as is the case with a new location in Brooklyn’s City Point neighborhood, it means stores are getting a little less crowded. That's probably for the best, since they're going to need room to throw a bunch of parties this weekend.