Trader Joe's Tasting Station
Allen N./Yelp

Are Trader Joe’s Samples Returning to Stores This Fall?

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, samples are likely coming back to Trader Joe’s stores this fall, according to a popular Reddit thread. While multiple online sources from Reddit to Instagram have reported on the return, the news remains unofficial and exact dates may vary by location.

The samples, which range from snacks to cooked meals, are expected to begin their comeback on Oct. 1, though multiple crew members on Reddit said that there would be changes.

“It is most likely going to be smaller satellite demo stations and they will not run all day. There won’t be free coffee or drinks either,” one Redditor wrote, adding that they’d heard the news during a work meeting.

Another crew member also confirmed that coffee samples won’t be returning because “way too many customers abused it.” That proviso dampened Redditors’ enthusiasm about the news. 

“I’m excited but also pretty sad the coffee won’t be back … Surely if it was being abused that much they could have just put the coffee samples behind the counter and had a crew member pour one per customer?” one Redditor commented.

Multiple Redditors said that they’d forgotten about samples, while some even criticized their return.

“Not looking forward to all the trash people leave around,” one popular comment reads.

“Personally, I think it is a terrible idea. Not worth risking Covid for myself or my family,” another critical Redditor wrote.

@addison.jarman 1. WHO KNEW THIS?! 2. (More importantly) who’s brave enough to ask?!! #shoppinghack #traderjoes #freesample ♬ original sound - Addison Jarman

Trader Joe’s stopped serving samples in March 2020, joining Costco and other retailers in their efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“There is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our customers and Crew Members,” Trader Joe’s announced in a March 2020 statement. “We will continue to provide information about what steps we are taking to address this rapidly evolving situation.”

Costco brought back free samples in May 2021 with additional hygiene measures. 

While shoppers wait for samples to return to their local Trader Joe's, they can also take advantage of the retailer's little-known try-before-you-buy policy, which lets you open and taste ready-to-eat products while shopping. Excluded from the items you can sample are frozen and raw products and alcohol. It's also probably a good idea to limit your sampling requests to only a couple of products so as not to upset the otherwise typically cheery disposition of Trader Joe's employees.

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