Founded by Joe Coulombe in 1967 in Pasadena, California, Trader Joe’s is a specialty grocery store chain with an almost cult-like following. Its 500-plus retail locations have a fraction of the footprint of a traditional grocery store, while the focus is on a tight assortment of both nationwide branded products and Trader Joe’s proprietary products developed by their internal product teams.
The store boasts a nautical theme from the team members’ Hawaiian shirt uniforms to a ship’s bell at the customer service desk, and fish netting decor throughout the store. Alcoholic beverages have always been a key part of the assortment, specifically with the wildly popular and now legendary Charles Shaw wine aka ‘Two Buck Chuck’ that retailed for $1.99. Trader Joe’s now boasts a $3.99 version made from organic grapes.
Annually, 40 million bottles of wine are sold at Trader Joe’s and its private label wines include the various levels of the Reserve range. Says Chris Condit, category leader of wine: ‘The entry point is the Petit Reserve. It’s a small price, under $10, for what we think are wonderful wines. We find a beautiful Chardonnay out of Lodi or a great Zinfandel out of Sonoma Valley.
‘Reserve tier is our $9.99 retail price point. And those tend to be pretty serious wines from pretty serious places. The grand reserve is our $12.99 price point. The Platinum Reserve retails for $14.99. The highest level is the Diamond Reserve that’s $19.99, but those wines might be $60, $70, or $80 on someone else’s label.’
Many wines on the Trader Joe’s shelves are fruit-forward, meant to drink now, and are not suitable for ageing. In fact, Tara Miller, vice president of marketing, says that the stacks of wine in the centre of the wine section ‘are the wines that sell at the highest rate; at the fastest rate’. These are purchase today, drink today wines, for the ‘convenience-focused’ shopper.