Food News

A Few Trader Joe's Shopping Tips to Chew On Before the Miami Beach Store Opens UPDATED

Preliminary rendering of Trader Joe's in Miami Beach
Preliminary rendering of Trader Joe's in Miami Beach Courtesy of Trader Joe's

According to a spokesperson for Trader Joe's, the Miami Beach location will open this summer, and although it won't open this weekend, it will be "soon." New Times will post the date as soon as it's announced.

Rumors are running rampant that the Miami Beach Trader Joe's is opening soon — as early as this weekend.

Though the grocery chain's website doesn't list an opening date for the store, the announcement section does list a location in La Habra, California, opening this Thursday. The California-based chain is known for keeping information close to the chest until everything is in place. This might mean the South Beach store is waiting for a final certificate of occupancy or other OK from the city.

Trader Joe's South Beach will occupy about 11,500 square feet of the five-story, mixed-use development 17 West, located on the corner of Alton Road and 17th Street. The project also includes retail and restaurant space, as well as 200 parking spots.

The store has a fiercely loyal following, in part because of its affordable prices and friendly staff. If you haven't been to a Trader Joe's, here are some reasons why the little tropical-themed grocer might be the best shopping experience.
click to enlarge
Preliminary rendering of Trader Joe's in Miami Beach
Courtesy of Trader Joe's
Try before you buy. Savvy Trader Joe's customers head to the back of the store first. That's where every location offers freebies at a counter. There, you can snag a free cup of coffee and a sampling of items such as orange chicken, ice cream, or seasonal specialties. Then head to the wine section and score a free tasting. Plus, if there's an item you're curious about, ask any Trader Joe's employee to open a package for you: All staffers are authorized to open any item so you can try it before you take it home (within reason, of course — it's totally not cool to game the system by testing raw hamburger, and wine and beer are subject to city and state laws and regulations).

Return anything. Still not happy with your purchase? Exchange it or get a full refund — even if you ate half of it. I recently purchased a dozen cage-free eggs and noticed at home that a few were broken. The following week, I mentioned the eggs to the store manager, and she asked me to choose another dozen for free without a receipt or even the original eggs as proof. That's great customer service.
Trader Joe's world. Trader Joe's is a bit like walking into Disney's version of a grocery store. Each shop is island-themed, boasting hand-painted murals that depict the neighborhood in which it resides. Crew members wear Hawaiian-style shirts. The store's general manager is called the captain. Trader Joe's treats workers well and promises a fair starting wage. Crew members make about $31,000 a year, according to Glassdoor, and 78 percent of them are promoted to supervisory roles in the company. All captains are promoted from within.

If you hear bells, by the way, it's the nautical version of a PA system. One bell means it's time to open another register. Two bells indicates someone has a question that needs answering at the checkout, and three bells signals a request for a manager.

Trader Joe's brands. At first, you probably won't recognize the brands here. Most everything is private-labeled. Pretty soon, though, you'll be snatching up Speculoos cookie butter and Inner Peas snacks. The store is small, but it's mighty. In addition to selling food, Trader Joe's offers flowers, greeting cards, home products, and pet food. 
Cheap wine. Yep, Trader Joe's carries the affectionately nicknamed Two Buck Chuck. The Charles Shaw wines from California actually sell for $3.99 now, but they're still a good value, especially when used in cooking. In addition, Trader Joe's carries some amazing wines if you're willing to fork over a few dollars more. Find a bottle of French rosé for $8 and a Liberty School Cabernet from Paso Robles for $10.

Trader Joe's. 1229 17th St., Suite 100, Miami Beach; Opening summer 2019.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss