If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you swear by it — especially if you’re a city dweller. We could wax poetic about the joys of this grocery store, but one thing brings us all back more than anything else: the Trader Joe’s prices. And there’s no sticker more shocking (in a good way) than that 19 cent stamp on bananas at that beloved grocery chain.
But it’s not only the deliciously low Trader Joe’s prices on the grocery staple that makes this chain unique, it’s also that they sell the fruits individually instead of bagged in bunches. But that wasn’t always the case, and you have one sassy old lady to thank for the change.
Where do those low Trader Joe's prices on bananas come from?
It all started in the Sun City store, Chairman and CEO Dan Bane revealed in the first episode of the Trader Joe’s podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s. This location of the grocery chain happened to be near a retirement complex, so when he spent time in the store observing customers and their shopping behaviors, it was inevitable that he would run into some residents of the facility.
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At this time, Bane explained, bananas were sold in bunches of four or five that came bagged so you couldn’t tear them apart or buy individually. You know, the system you still see at many other grocery stores — and the reason why you always have one banana rotting on your counter. For Trader Joe’s, this was a matter of necessity. Bananas were sold by the pound, but the chain doesn’t have scales, so the tropical fruit was weighed and packaged before it was shipped to each store.
One day while he was observing, he saw an older lady approach the banana display before walking away without adding any to her cart. "So I asked her, 'Ma'am, if you don't mind me asking, I saw you looking at the bananas but you didn't put anything in your cart," Bane explained on the podcast.
And, boy, did she ever have an answer for him: "And she says to me, 'Sonny, I may not live to that fourth banana.'" The joke stuck with him so well that the very next day the store started selling bananas individually at 19 cents a pop, and they haven’t changed since.
So the next time you’re doing your grocery shopping, think about the little old lady with a dark sense of humor who helped you get those jaw-dropping Trader Joe's prices. Then add just one banana to your cart because you can.