What Do Those Ringing Bells Mean at Trader Joe’s?
Though Southerners are loyal to their favorite regional supermarket chains like Publix and Piggly Wiggly, we can’t get enough of Trader Joe’s. What’s not to love? This 50-year-old company has taken the grocery-store world by storm with its range of delicious specialty goods, Two Buck Chuck wine, and tiki-themed decor. If you’re looking for ways to cut your grocery bill or save more at the supermarket, make a trip to Trader Joe’s and check out the unbeatable low-price deals for yourself. The chain even carries some of our favorite Southern foods like pepper jelly, cornbread, and sweet tea.
But what’s with those ringing bells at the checkout lines? Following along with the store’s maritime theme and employees’ bright Hawaiian shirts, large gold bells with rope handles are hung at each register. These bells carry out Trader Joe’s unique communication system—their very own form of Morse code (as they describe it). The tradition began back in 1975, when an employee rang a decorative nautical bell to get another employee’s attention. And thus, Trader Joe’s bell-ringing communication system was born. As the company explains on their website, TJ wanted to avoid using traditional PA systems like you’ll usually hear sounding overhead at other grocery stores. Instead, cashiers at the checkout lines ring bells to alert one another.
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So what do the bells mean? A cashier will ring one bell when additional registers need to be opened. Two bells signify that an additional employee is needed at the checkout line to answer a customer’s question. Three bells send an alert that a manager is needed at the register.
Listen out for the bells during your next visit to Trader Joe’s, and see if you can decipher the code.
Though Southerners are loyal to their favorite regional supermarket chains like Publix and