Some lucky Trader Joe's customers had the shopping spree experience of their lives last weekend, and we're totally jealous.
According to multiple TikTok videos posted last weekend, a TJ's location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana gave away all of its refrigerated and frozen items because the refrigerators malfunctioned. Instead of throwing out thousands of dollars worth of food, customers were able to load up carts and take it all home for free — talk about being in the right place at the right time!
Random trip to Trader Joe’s turned into a blessing 😇♬ original sound - Pyxis Princess
In one TikTok posted by @registerednerd_ that already has 10.9 million views after two days, a Trader Joe's employee is asked to explain what's going on as she's packing bags full of food at the register. "Our refrigeration went out," says the employee. "So we're giving away everything that is cold or frozen."
Exactly how much food is that? Well, we see that the running total on the register, which the employee confirms is for everyone in the store so far, is at over $2,800 and counting. It probably continued going up thousands of dollars more before everything was cleared out of the fridges and freezers.
@.amiyabrielle the way GOD been blessing me lately.. whew happy GOoD friday yall. #waymaker #traderjoes #goodfriday ♬ original sound - gospelmusicenthusiast
According to comments by that video's creator, @.amiyabrielle, store employees first tried calling local food shelters to give away the food, but they were all closed. So instead of letting thousands of meals go to waste in the dumpster, they did the next best thing and invited anyone in to take what they wanted.
Other commenters were quick to point out just how unusual it is for a huge grocery chain like Trader Joe's to actually give away products, even though grocery stores experience power outages and refrigeration malfunctions all the time. "Thank you Trader Joe’s for donating it to the customers in need and not just throwing it away," said one commenter on TikTok. "That’s exactly what Walmart do sadly," replied another TikTokker.
While just letting customers grab a free cartful is unusual, Trader Joe's already gives away lots of it unsold food: 100% of it that's still edible, in fact. In 2022, donations through its Neighborhood Shares program totaled 85 million pounds of food to local food pantries and non-profits, so while the direct-to-shopper method here is surprising, the sentiment from Trader Joe's is not.
While we're slightly disappointed that no one appears to have run through the freezer aisle with a cart "Supermarket Sweep" style, it's a heartwarming decision from the Baton Rouge Trader Joe's staff that undoubtedly helped a lot of people who needed it. "Not all heroes wear capes," said one Redditor about the situation. "Some wear Hawaiian shirts."