E-Commerce

Why is this $2.99 Trader Joe’s mini-tote being sold for as much as $700 on eBay?

The grocery chain, which trumpets low prices and discourages resale, is not thrilled.
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eBay

· less than 3 min read

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So committed is Trader Joe’s to its claim of having low prices that it eschews popular discount practices that are nearly universal among supermarkets. Trader Joe’s items never go on sale, and—ironically for a brand whose shoppers can be particularly loyal—it has no loyalty program; its website explains that the reason for both is that it “believes every customer should have access to the best prices on the best products every day.”

That’s also why the brand explains on its website that it does “all [it] can to stop the practice” of reselling its products, which it says often are resold at “exorbitant” prices.

But surely never as exorbitant as what’s happening now.

The love tote: A mini version of Trader Joe’s logoed canvas tote bag, which it began selling in February for $2.99, has exploded on social media.

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A video posted by TikTok user @athenaspud showing Trader Joe’s employees being swarmed by shoppers as they wheel a display table with the bags into the store has garnered 5.6 million views.

“These mfs wildin over a mini tote bag,” text superimposed on the video explains.

Sellers on eBay, meanwhile, are asking as much as $1,000 for a set of four of the totes and $700 for just one, the latter an increase of 23,233% over what Trader Joe’s charges.

It’s the sort of untethered consumer enthusiasm that brands usually can only fantasize about, but for Trader Joe’s, with its paeans to low prices and opposition to resale, the episode has been, in every sense, a mixed bag.

Big little prize: Nakia Rohde, Trader Joe’s public relations manager, told USA Today that the tote frenzy arose “before we had the opportunity to promote them in any way,” and reiterated that her company does not “endorse the resale of any of our products, anywhere.”

As for Trader Joe’s superfans crying themselves to sleep because they can’t find the bags in stock, they might want to purchase a pillow protector instead. The grocer is having more bags made, but they won’t be available until late summer, Rohde told USA Today.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.