10 Reasons To Love Trader Joe’s and 2 To Not

Trader Joes
There are many reasons to love Trader Joe’s, but here’s my top 10 (can you tell I just came from there?):



1) Pretty much you can depend that their food is good and fresh, and a lot of it is readymade and “convenient”. 



2) Prices are a value considering much of what they sell is private label, premium, or super premium–like the “Belgium chocolate” above!



3) They have many items in single-serve portions, so the food is easy to make, clean up, and store. 



4) The stores are relatively small, clean, well lit, and cozy with a limited number of goods, making shopping quick and easy–they’ve already narrowed the field for you. 



5) They have freebies to taste in the aisles–tonight it was 2 types of coffee and a pumpkin cheesecake sample–the check out guy asked me if I had a chance to try it–uh, not on my diet, but thanks!



6) They have a cool customer service bell in front that they ring whenever you need something done–tonight it was as simple as replacing a package that had opened up–ring, ring–a clerk brought up a brand new one, jiffy quick. 



7) They double bag the goods, so the bags don’t break on the way home and the goodies don’t fall out. 



8) Typically convenient locations in major shopping areas and short lines inside…never have to wait more than one person ahead on the line. 



9) They are eco-friendly and have lot’s of stuff that is organic, non-genetically modified, and without artificial anything. 



10) They ask you–and seem to mean it–if you found everything okay with your shopping experience, and seem more than ready to correct anything that was less than perfect. 



Despite these wonderful traits, there is something about Trader Joe’s that’s Normal Rockwell all smiley, small-townish annoying and claustrophobic, especially in the age of the more modern megastore supermarkets and Costco warehouses.



So it’s not the only store I go to–variety is still the spice of life. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Micromanaging Your Customers

Check Out
Standing in line at the store the other day, I’ve got to to say that I sort of really resented this ridiculous check out line.



We are not in kindergarten and do not need little footsies and signs to tell us where to stand, how far apart, and who is up next in the line.



Actually, it’s really not all that complicated–we can figure out to lineup in front of the counter and wait our turn civilly.



Micromanaging your customers (or for that matter your employees) is a pretty stupid idea.



Get your own house in order–and do a good job servicing the people that are paying you (or working to make you a success).



How about you take your little feet over behind the counter and get the line moving that much faster and stop making us wait so long to begin with to give you our business.



Happy Black Friday…loosen the reins a little won’t you and you’ll find a happier customer (and employee) base and make some more money in the process. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Time To Spread The Magic

Time To Spread The Magic

So I’m not the biggest fan of Disney theme parks — maybe that is not a popular thing to write.

But to me, the rides alternate between fake or nauseating (when they’re not broken down), the characters are outdated, the parks are hot, overcrowded, and the lines and wait times are long, and the ticket prices are sort of crazy for what you’re getting (not).

Let’s see, a day at Disney or day at the beach–uh, I’ll take the beach any day!

But Disney is doing something magical these days.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports how Disney’s new MagicBands are using technology to make the theme park experience more convenient, even if not more fun.

The MagicBands are like an all-in-one electronic link between you and Disney:

– No need for an admission ticket, because the MagicBand does that.

– Reserve your favorite rides, use your wrist band.

– Hotel room keys, that’s right the band unlocks your door.

– Shopping at Disney kingdom, the band functions as your debit/credit card.

– Being greeted by name or wished a happy birthday, the bands make your experience more personal.

What’s more Disney uses the bands for “big data” analytics–for capturing your likes and preferences for rides, restaurants, food, and souvenirs–and this adds up to customer service enhancements like restocking shelves, opening up reservations, expedited queues, and even targeted mail and text messaging/advertising.

The bands have radio frequency identification tag/chips (RFID) as well as GPS sensors, so Disney knows who you are, where you are, and even much of what you’re doing.

Spooky from a privacy standpoint–sure, you are really sitting there exposed in just about every way.

But this technology has arrived, not just at Disney, but via embedded RFID in your smartphones or your body someday soon.

The synthesis of man and machine…the mystery is gone in the magic kingdom, but maybe the service gets better. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Voting Firsts

Gw_with_soda

With voting, this was the first time I’ve ever:

– Voted early–even though it was on the last early voting day.

– Had to wait on any sort of real line to vote–this one was about 30 minutes long!

– Waited outside in the cold on a line snaking around the building–until the election volunteers had a heart and let us all in and out of the cold. 

– Had electioneering occurring right outside at tables and people handing out “information” until maybe 25 feet before the doors of the polling center–in the past, this activity was always kept far away and and they didn’t have the nerve to approach you as you were literally going inside the polling stations. 

– Got to sit down at a voting machine–always had to stand up previously, but from the sitting position and the “ergonomics” of the voting machine, you could hardly see them properly. 

– Had virtually no voting privacy–the machine faced the walls with the touch screens facing inward towards everyone else in the auditorium.

Despite all these voting firsts and most of them disappointing, the one voting first that I would have liked to see and didn’t was Internet voting, where we would usher voting into the 21st century with ease of voting, convenience, and privacy.

For some reason we can bank, shop, and pay taxes online, but to vote, we’re still stuck in the dark ages and it seemed like overall it was getting darker. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)