“End of the line” at Trader Joe’s

23 Nov
Essay by Aaron Galbreath

The Man at the End of the Line / Narrative.ly

For your reading pleasure…

You’re in NYC. In a city that never sleeps, Trader Joe’s is faced with 24/7 people who love to shop and a flock of customers bigger than anywhere else in the U.S.

Enter the end-of-the-line sign. And the most important part, the end-of-the-line sign holder.

Why is there such a sign and such a sign holder?

With so many people in the store at any given time, it can become disorienting. That group of people in front of you – are they waiting to sample mini pies and coffee? Are they just making their way to the marinated tofu and unshelled edamame? Or are they the end of the checkout line?

That’s why.

Aaron Gilbreath has beautifully captured the swarming TJ experience. His essay, The Man at the End of the Line on the Narratively site, offers insights about TJ efficiency and the people who steer the crowds. It’s a great read.

Here’s a sample:

“The longest wait I’ve ever seen,” a supervisor says, “is fifteen minutes.” But that isn’t the longest on record. A crew member named Teresa remembers lines so long during both Hurricane Sandy and Thanksgiving last year that they snaked through frozen foods in both directions and out onto the street. A desperation filled the air on those days, a fog of tense hysteria that seemed to waft from the throngs of customers who streamed in from the street. “The honor guard had to close the front door,” Teresa says. “We had to let the line go and let people in, let the line go and let people in. It was a process, but we’re efficient.”

Happy reading!

[Are you in New York? Please share your end-of-line experiences and thoughts!]

Thanks to Narratively for permission to repost their content.

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