Trader Joe’s knows cards


Your favorite small grocer may be just the place to find something that you didn’t know you needed: greeting cards. And even if you don’t think you need a personable and expressive note to send to friends or family, you might change your mind if you steer your red cart past the frozen veggies and domestic wines to the wall of mailable mementos.

After discovering the greeting card display at my local Trader Joe’s about five years ago, I became hooked. Every time I pick up their 50% Less Salt Dry Roasted & Salted Almonds (delicious!) or GT’s Gingerade Kombucha (lowest price anywhere!), I survey their continously-evolving selection of cards. I have never been disappointed.

Last week I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Trader Joe’s has broken with tradition and, for the first time, introduced a small number of seasonally-themed cards. The store on Walton Boulevard across from Oakland University currently stocks two aimed specifically at Halloween, and one that could be used for All Hallows’ Eve or a Dia de los Muertos (Oct. 31 – Nov. 2) celebration. I bought all three.


Although greeting cards can be found at Target, Meijer, Walmart, and corner drug stores in addition to Hallmark, what sets Trader Joe’s apart from the competition is the price. All of their cards are only $0.99. That’s right — they’re a buck. And if you suspect that this low price translates to the likelihood that you will be disappointed by the cards’ mediocre artwork, structural flimsiness, or poor fabrication, you’d be wrong.

Trader Joe’s produces high-quality greeting cards. The artwork draws from a broad range of styles and artists, the folds are crisp and precise, and the edges are smoothly cut. Even the envelopes are sturdy, well-constructed, and adequately prepared with adhesive.  Plus, every card comes pre-packaged in a form-fitting plastic sleeve, which is a real benefit if you are sandwiching the cards in your shopping bag between pouches of organic chopped frozen fruit and boxes of TJ’s Pumpkin Pie Mocha Ice Cream. (Note — It has not escaped my attention that these sleeves are an environmental hazard.)

The categories of TJ’s greeting cards range from birthdays to weddings, new job to new baby, and get well to get lost (okay — the latter is an exaggeration). But there are a whole bunch of different themes, from serious to silly. And one of the best things about the selection is that Trader Joe’s routinely carries at least four or five cards that feature pleasing outer photography or artwork paired with blank interiors. These are perfect for people (like me) who enjoy penning their own message.

The next time you are composing your grocery list, add “greeting cards” to round out the selection of staples that you will store in your pantry or freezer. Trader Joe’s offers well-constructed cards in a broad range of styles at a price — only $0.99 — that can’t be beat. But please don’t take my word for it. According to the Trader Joe’s website, in 2017 shoppers purchased almost 17 million of their greeting cards!

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