When Trader Joe’s launched a near ingredient-for-ingredient clone of Supergoop’s sunscreen, an internet-famous skincare product, the retailer’s $9 bottle sold out across the country. If shoppers asked when a new shipment was in, maybe they could get their hands on the TikTok-famous sunblock — but it was a battle.
“Should I blame TikTok and Twitter for why I can't find the Daily Facial Sunscreen already?” a Trader Joe’s superfan asked on Reddit.
Many of the same superfans lamenting the shortage on social media are also the same shoppers stockpiling popular products. On the 1-million-strong “Favorite Trader Joe’s Products” Facebook group, posts about “stockpiling” are common, in part because Trader Joe’s often discontinues products without notice.
@shelbyalexis___ I hate when things go viral on tiktok because it sells out everywhere 😭😭😭 #blackgirlsintraderjoes #traderjoessunscreen #skincaregirl ♬ original sound - Tik Toker
“I’ve finally polished off the stockpile of peppermint Hold the Cones that I built up last year (yes, that’s 2020…I overbought for sure). Anyway, does anyone know when the coffee ones come out? I want to make sure there’s room in the freezer!” Lydia Middleton wrote in the Facebook group earlier this year.
“And no comments about hoarding please. I buy a couple each visit over the course of several weeks so anyone that wants them has ample opportunity,” she added.
Posts and comments like Lydia Middleton’s abound on Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, where fans are quick to stockpile their favorite products before they’re permanently discontinued.
@lifeasleahnicole Anyone else stockpile the seasonal drinks from @Trader Joe's? I can’t help that theyre SO GOOD! #traderjoes #blackgirlsintraderjoes #traderjoesdrinks #fyp ♬ original sound - Leah
Other stockpilers do so before seasonal products disappear, or because they have family members who live abroad where you can't find the retailer.
But that behavior has provoked backlash both on and offline from shoppers who say that superfans are being "greedy" or "hoarding."
“It’s so rude when they do that,” Shannon Clark told the Wall Street Journal. “At the end of the day, we need to be looking out for each other a little more. You can love something without being greedy.”
Clark, a member of the popular Trader Joe’s Facebook page, called out another shopper as “greedy” after they posted a photo of their haul of more than five bags of Carolina Gold chips.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you're not hoarding at Trader Joe's, you're not doing it right. 🍾 pic.twitter.com/jndIqpKqh3— Katie Neal (@katieneal) December 26, 2016
A popular Reddit post titled “Hoarding Items Is Selfish” shares Clark’s sentiment.
“It seems really selfish for one person to take the entire stock of an item, and it means that some people won't even get to try the item,” the post reads.
Most Redditors seemed to agree, with some proposing a per-customer limit on popular items. Such a limit would also prevent resellers, who capitalize on trendy products and shortages.
Even though the buzz around Trader Joe’s sunscreen has died down, multiple vendors on eBay are still selling bottles for as high as $27, an $18 premium.
So stock up before they sell out again ... or don't.