885 Russell Blvd. (In the parking lot of University Mall)
Daily 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
(530) 757-2693

Trader Joe's is a medium-sized specialty grocery store chain that operates a 12,000-square-foot store in the University Mall parking lot. It is known for offering many kinds of soy milk, for employees wearing Hawaiian shirts and a laid-back attitude, for selling items made by other manufacturers at a lower price under the TJ's label, for shelves lined with pre-prepared meals and yummy desserts, for Two-Buck Chuck, and for selling produce with way too much packaging. TJ's had a drawn out and somewhat controversial beginning in Davis; see History below for details.

Gift cards are available at all Trader Joe's Locations and online.

Trader Joe's rarely has sales on their products; the company policy is to offer their products at a fair price every day. Products such as meat and produce are sold in pre-packaged, pre-weighed containers. This is different than most grocery stores where these products are weighed and priced at the register. Their "private label" foods do not contain GMOs. Also, TJ's has signed on to the Friends of the Earth Pledge for GE-Free Seafood, which asks grocers to commit to the following: "It is our policy to not knowingly purchase or sell genetically engineered (GE) salmon or other GE seafood, should it come to market."

Trader Joe's has an extensive wine selection, including a wide variety of very good wines priced under $5/bottle.

TJ's was owned by German billionaire Theo Albrecht until his death 24 July 2010. He also owned the Aldi Nord grocery store chain in Germany. TJ's is now believed to be owned by a trust set up by Albrecht. There are shoppers who still think of the chain as being either small or Californian.

  • Trader Joe's was founded by Joe Coulombe in California, and later sold to Theo Albrecht. Also, compared to some other supermarkets, Trader Joe's can be considered "small," but that's all relative.
    • The stores are only 10K to 15K square feet, which is cuddly by current standards. But the chain is huge, with 350 stores according to this profile. They're smaller than Wal-Mart, but what isn't?

One of the reasons people love this specialty grocer is that every day at Trader Joe's someone is demoing a usually tasty and strange recipe during business hours. And you can always help yourself to a free coffee sample as well.

Unfortunately, some people have found that mold often appears on the food well before it should, sometimes on the day of purchase. Trader Joe's is very good about returns, but it's not something a customer should have to deal with consistently. Other regular customers have not seen any mold. The difference may have to do with the choice of one's purchases.

Every Trader Joe's has a plastic lobster on display in the store. There is a hidden toy inside every store. If a child finds this toy and brings it to customer service, the child will get a prize. Usually the toy is Joe Joe the Parrot.

Trader Joe's has no internal Public Address system. The store uses bells instead. One bell means that another register needs to be opened. Two bells means that an employee needs assistance at checkout. Three bells means that a manager is needed.

Employees wear tropical shirts because the store wants customers to be in an environment that fosters exploring exotic foods.

Also see the Grocery Store Price Comparison Page.

Grand Opening

Trader Joe's did not have a soft open as many stores do. Instead they held a Grand Opening ceremony on Friday, October 29, 2010 at 8 AM. Days before the opening, Trader Joe's sent postcards to Davis residents that doubled as a coupon for a free reusable bag and a raffle ticket for a chance to win a $50 Trader Joe's gift certificate.




Grand opening: Long lines at the checkout Grand opening: Decorated with balloons and a bike theme Grand opening: And the band was playing!


Demolition of Davis Imaging Preparing the ground for the new TJ's Construction is going fast - Progress as of Saturday, May 22nd 2010

Trader Joe's has been greatly desired by Davis residents for some time. The Measure X campaign tried to entice voters with the possibility of a TJ's inside Covell Village, but the measure was rejected by voters.

The city council received the TJ's application on June 5, 2006 and it was originally slated to open by the end of 2007, according to an article in the Sacramento Business Journal.1.

When the planning commission made its first recommendations to the Council on September 26, 2006, it was revealed that Radiological Associates of Sacramento (RAS), located on the proposed Trader Joe's site, was unwilling to move. RAS moved into the building in 2003 on a 14-year lease and had invested $1.6 million in structural improvements.2

On October 17, 2006, the City Council approved zoning changes that would allow Trader Joe's to move in. RAS still occupied the lot and despite attempts to convince them to relocate, they showed little interest in doing so. The rezoning would have also allowed RAS to move into the University Mall building, though this would mean another business would have had to leave. Note that the city has no control over these lease negotiations. Teriyaki Express has already been given a 30-day eviction notice by UMall owner Centro Watt.3 In May 2007, Centro Watt filed suit against RAS over terms of the lease.4

On July 27, 2008, the The People's Vanguard of Davis reported that RAS was moving to a location on Covell and that a new building for Trader Joe's would be constructed at their former U Mall location.

There were speculations that Trader Joe's might have been interested in an interior mall space, but the landlords wanted to fill all of the Gottshalk's space and wouldn't divide it. Others pointed to Trader Joe's observable preference for high visibility and high traffic locations, such as the exterior location they finally leased.

The parking lot location plan was revived in December 2009. Demolition on the site (where Davis Imaging had been located) began in April 2010. Forever 21 eventually moved into the old Gottschalks space.

Locations outside Davis

The next nearest Trader Joe's is in Sacramento: Trader_Joe's

5000 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento
17.9 miles
2625 Marconi Ave. (corner of Fulton), Sacramento
22.2 miles
1350 Gateway Blvd., Fairfield
28.1 miles
5309 Sunrise Blvd., Fair Oaks
29.0 miles
1117 Douglas Blvd. (in Roseville Sq.), Roseville
32.2 miles
850 E. Bidwell St., Folsom
36.4 miles

(distances are from 3rd & F street, the city center)


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2010-10-30 12:04:48   We went in the evening on opening day. It is so refreshing to be able to pop down the road to TJ's and buy just a few things, instead of slogging all the way to Sac and feeling as though we had to stock up for a month. Each TJ's is set up a little differently; I noticed that this one had a lot of prepared food close to the entrance, which I imagine will be a smart move for them. (The cashier told us that students were mainly stocking up on prepared foods and desserts, and TJ's has both in ample supply). This store has wider aisles than the Sac store, which was really nice since TJ's can get crowded, as it was on opening day. Apparently the lines had been long all day (not surprisingly), but lucky for us they started to die down while we were there. The parking lot was a bit crazy, though, which seems par for the course for TJ's.

The first day's sample was meatballs and BBQ sauce; I was a little surprised that they didn't pick something vegetarian that would appeal to more people, but then again, they were pretty tasty. And they hadn't run out of the free bags by the time we checked out, which was also nice. All in all, I'm really psyched that TJ's is (finally) in Davis. —CovertProfessor

2010-10-31 11:29:31   First, off I'm a BIG fan of TJ's. We went to TJ's mid-day Saturday, October 30th in our small car. What a mistake. The newly striped parking spaces are barely wide enough for a compact and then you can't even open your doors if you're adjacent to another vehicle. Did the City of Davis sign off on these non-conforming spaces? They're "double-striped" unlike any other spaces I've ever seen - anywhere. Other than the hassle of trying to get in or out of our vehicle and reversing out (which was nearly impossible due to limited distance between bumpers), the store was crazy-busy with happy customers, a busy "crew" and long lines.

Kudos to all who contributed (they are many, indeed) to get a great TJ's here except to the "Parking Lot Crew" that will have to re-visit how the stalls were measured and painted. I'd do it for free since I've always wanted to design the "perfect parking lot" for a high-traffic store. I like arrows and slanted spaces personally. My recommendation: walk, ride, take a bus or fly until the parking lot is re-striped properly. Or park as far AWAY from TJ's as practical because it's not worth the frustration. Or the dented doors and bumpers. Sorry for the rant....Go TJ's!!! Luv ya' already...welcome to Davis. Grins to all. —fknochenhauer

2010-11-01 08:44:43   I love love love TJ's and am so excited for its long awaited arrival. However, the parking lot is ridiculous. Like fknochenhauer, we have a tiny car. The parking spaces are far too narrow! We could barely open our doors and then had to squeeze ourselves out. Until the lot gets re-striped, I will only ride my bike. Good for my health and the environment, but super inconvenient! TJ's: please re-stripe your lot! —WMD

2010-11-01 13:36:54   I have to agree about the parking spaces! I was tempted to park and take two spots, but thought better of it and kept circling until I was able to find a slanted spot and put my baby to sleep. —jsbmeb

2010-11-01 18:39:45   Hmph. I had no problem parking my '02 Camry. Strange that others seem to be having such issues. Maybe I was parking in a different set of spaces...?

Anyway, nice to have a TJ's here. I wonder what this will do to the Co-Op, though, given the overlap in many of their specialty food items and the fact that TJ's is cheaper. (Economies of scale, I would imagine.) —RobertM525

2010-11-03 21:53:08   Nice to have but I was unable to find many of my perennial TJ's favorites from when I lived in Sacramento. No Aronia Berry juice, Nasi Goreng or Acai of any kind. Not worth going there regularly because let's face it most of what they sell is junkfood once you weed out the healthy staples. Glad they have arrived in Davis though Whole Foods is really what I'm waiting for. —MaryCarroll

2010-11-04 14:29:07   from the People's Vanguard of Davis site, Dec. 2008: "Community Development Director Katherine Hess told the Vanguard that there is no financial arrangement with Trader Joe's. However, she later clarified that point understanding that the incentives that DANG refers to in their letter are a reduction in parking requirements. She suggested that the city would be open to doing the same at Westlake if that would make a difference.

However, this misses the point. According to the traffic and parking analysis, the building of Trader Joe's would require a larger number of parking spaces at the University Mall in order to accommodate the increased amount of customers using the facility. However, the expansion of the facility to accommodate Trader Joe's will actually result in a reduced number of parking spaces available. The city is not requiring Trader Joe's or the University Mall to provide for those additional spaces. Instead they are arguing that the parking lot is under utilized at it stands now and that they would simply increase the enforcement against people using the lot who live in adjacent apartment buildings."

So, I guess the parking lot was considered too small and the Parking Lot Crew decided to paint really narrow spaces and wedge in as many as they could. Ride a bike, walk, etc. until this is fixed. I hope they put arrows in and angle parking street-side on Sycamore. That would make sense. —fknochenhauer

2010-11-06 21:37:35   I lived relatively near a Trader Joe's growing up, however, my family only went a few times and it was at an age before I started cooking for myself. Having heard positive things about it from my friends, I went in excited about a week ago. I guess I was expecting more of a specialty market, but instead it seemed very costco-like (without the quantity, and increase in quality), everything was pre-packaged for efficiency. I have nothing bad to say about the service, however, part of cooking for me is choosing my own produce (and the quantity) or go to a the butcher counter and pick out a piece of meat. I will probably come here for parties if I'm just going to lay out some cheeses or pre-made food, otherwise I'll probably stick to more traditional grocery stores. —AlvinTsao

2010-11-08 21:46:31   Pastrami here is delicious... —hankim

2010-11-15 16:39:17   I like Trader Joe's Citrus Body Wash. Regular bar soap dries my skin, while Trader Joe's body wash moisturizes my skin. I will never go back to bar soap again. —MaxLucas

2010-11-24 16:17:14   Unlike the previous comments I am a newbie to the chain. Love Love Love Trader Joe's! I am so happy it is here and in my neighborhood. Not only great products, but excellent prices as well. It seems it will not be a good thing for the other grocers though. —Sherri

2010-11-28 07:57:09   The Trader Joe's parking lot in Davis is vastly bigger than most, including the next closest in Sacramento, where there is usually a long wait for a parking spot of any kind. In Seattle, the TJ's parking lots (especially on Capitol Hill and Queen Anne Hill) are famous for causing minor damage and major frustration. I still recommend biking to avoid the parking mess, but I certainly wouldn't hold my breath for "re-striping". —aubitz

2010-11-29 20:05:38   A welcomed addition to Davis. Typical Trader Joe offerings: cheap-ish items, good variety of organic and healthy foods. As others have noted, the parking lot is very cramped. If you have a longer/bigger car and park in the more narrow spaces (to the side of Umall), you will face difficulties. Bike if you can. Otherwise, try to snag a parking space in the more central parking lot (i.e. in front of World Market). —blastoff

2011-01-19 12:42:09   Best coffee selection in town —mangosalsa

the Kenyan coffee doesn't even taste Kenyan. Could be any south American no-name beans.

2011-02-06 13:09:44   All my white friends hype up TJ's to the max. It's good but not that good. The employees seem to be really into buying a lot of their stuff. Do they get a discount or something like that? Anyways...

Pros: Good for a quick delicious frozen meal. Good for CHEAP wine.

Cons: Not a good selection of vegies to cook with. Not the cheapest place in the world. Random selection it seems. I wanted to buy tinfoil which they dont have, but if I wanted catnip or dog toys they do. —David.Tran

  • I've heard that all employees get a 10% discount. —ScottMeehleib

2011-02-16 11:49:48   I'm in love with Trader Joes. My first experience shopping at a Trader Joes was the on in Davis. They offer a nice selection of foods and products and the prices are great. I think that they should add more items though, it seems like a very small store. I will continue to shop here because its affordable. you really get your moneys worth. —Sandlot3

2011-04-13 20:08:06   I wont be shopping there anymore. I wanted to try a new recipe for shrimp where you cook them in white wine, so I went there to get the ingredients. I am 35 years old and was denied service. Then I went to the co-op and got my groceries and it is indeed an excellent recipe :) I regret having taken my shopping from the coop to trader joes for a while. —MichaelNielsen

Denied service? How? —TomGarberson

I do not know how to post a comment as a reply so I do it as an edit: @Tom: The staff only knows how to read CA IDs, so they did not know if my Danish ID was fake or not. I've been around Davis on and off since 2004 and never had a problem like this. But it is fine, I like the coop much better, anyway, I was getting tired of all the plastic.

2011-05-12 06:36:49   @michaelnielsen, it is not the employees fault for not accepting your Danish ID. California alcohol law states that if you don't look 45 years old, they must card you and if you are even 60 and are asked for ID you have to provide one or they can still turn you away from an alcohol purchase...if I am wrong please correct me. As for not accepting your Danish ID, it is a Trader Joe's company policy to not accept any IDs as valid unless there is a photo and physical identification such as height, weight, eye and hair color, and so on...and of course needs to be in English. —xeks

So, the other establishments could have been busted by big brother? (Got to back up Danish bro.) —bh

Still, there's no way looking at me, you can get the impression I'm not old enough, and then I also have the documents that tell it's true - no way you can believe that is fake, unless you are a moron, even if it's not your standard looking document. With Davis being such an international area and the DMW being under budgeted and overworked so people barely can get their license before leaving again, common sense should be applied. It's safe to assume that having a brat who probably isn't old enough himself keeping someone old enough to be his father to cook the planned dinner will spawn a reaction. Not to mention how hypocritical it is to have those laws to begin with in a place thats supposed to be the liberal beacon land of the free and minimal government intervention, and turning being frauded into being the crime. So should the store that sells a knife to the murderer be punished? or should food be restricted because if you use it wrong, you get fat and die?

Usually passports are accepted for international customers as proof of age. While its not illegal to deny service to international customers because they don't have a U.S. ID, it is in general viewed as a rather trashy business practice. If MN indeed had a Danish passport, that should have been accepted as proof of age (since a passport does have a photo, birth date, height and weight). Not sure if a Danish ID is the same as a passport, and I am not sure the difference matters. —MattHh

2011-08-11 12:54:14   Quick Express Check-out Line (15 items or less). I asked management to consider a line for those of us who only buy a few things and have to trudge along in a long line. Other TJ's have them and I hope Davis will add one soon when customer flow warrants it. Suggestion: ask the people behind the raised counter WHEN they will be including a Quick Check-out line. That would help my customer experience at this store. Luv it, but would luv it more if I could hit-and-run when in a rush. —fknochenhauer

2011-09-07 12:36:00   Great experience with TJs today. I called because a loaf of bread I had just bought had already molded before I had even opened it and I was hoping to get a fresh loaf. Not only did my phone call go straight to a real person (not an automated press such-and-such-button) service, but the person who answered was able to help me and was EXTREMELY friendly and understanding. Not only did he tell me he'd been through before the same problem, but told me the best way to make it last the longest and offered me a new loaf or my money back for the loaf that went bad. One of the best customer service experiences I've had in a long time! —AmyMartin

2011-09-11 19:13:12   Trader Joe's is awesome! So much better than Nugget (stuck up front end and really bad chinese/sushi). The people are so nice, the quality of food is amazing and the prices are low. —rosepetal140

  • I've never experienced any stuck up attitudes at Nugget. I'd say TJ's and Nugget are equals in terms of customer service. —jsogul
  • I, too, have never had a bad experience with the Nugget employees. They're always so friendly and happy, and I love going to both places. —TheShah
    • Also, the Masala Burgers at TJ's are delicious. —SS
    • I agree — very nice employees at both stores. —CovertProfessor

2011-11-03 19:39:47   Trader Joe's is the BEST! Great food, Great prices and very friendly staff. I love their low acid coffee. —stodd84

2011-12-23 20:32:22   Dose any one know if they sell Dr. Bronner's magic Soap here? I've been told the Davis food Co-op carries it, but they charge you more if you aren't a member. I'm just trying to figure out if it is worth buying it online and paying to have a gallon of liquid shipped to me. —SmellyGroundHog

I may have seen it at Trader Joe"s and in case it is there is most likely less expensive. If it were a bulk item at the Coop it would be less expensive. It may have been a bulk item at one time. As an example of bulk savings at the Coop, cinnamon like other spices is packaged at Trader Joe's for $1.99. 1 1/2 oz. is $1.99 vs bulk at the Coop for ~$8/ lb.. Here's an unrelated example of savings for a giant-quantity 55 gallon drum of a product that can be used before using Dr. Bronner's soap. —BruceHansen

  • Definitely have bought Dr. Bronners at the Coop as well as Nugget, didn't even think to check TJ's for it. —sba
    • Trader Joe's carries 32 oz. bottles for $9.99. Also, regarding spices, the same size 2 1/2 oz. bottles of spices are 99 cents at the Grocery Outlet. Their curry powder is more flavorful and less hot than Trader Joe's' — better to me. —BruceHansen

2012-10-26 19:46:44   I think I'm done with Trader Joe's. They sell a lot of cool stuff, but it just doesn't last. After my last shopping trip there the bread was moldy after 2 days (the ENTIRE loaf), the bagels were moldy after 4 days (all three remaining in the pack), and the pack of chicken wings (sealed and refrigerated, obviously) smelled horrible when opened after 4 days.

Not sure if they're selling old food or aren't storing it properly, but I don't feel like throwing away $10 per shopping trip on food that's probably already going bad when I walk out of the store with it. Not worth it. —TomGarberson

  • The fact that it had massive mold growth after only 2 days means that there is severe mold contamination at the place where it is baked. This is very disturbing in that mold can be potentially fatal to people who are allergic to it. The absolutely unsanitary conditions under which the bread is baked must mean that the facilities have massive mold growths all over the ceilings and walls. Remember the mold contaminated lab that produced the steroid injections that killed 25 people. Think of the horrifying images of black killer mold all over the ceilings and walls with tons of mold spores falling all over the loaves of bread. Several years ago I bought fresh baked bread from a Safeway in another city and after only a few days it was infested with mold. I suffered an allergic reaction of the type that almost killed me. Mold has deep roots and by the time you see it on the surface it is already deeply present internally inside the bread in massive amounts. This isn't a case of selling old food. This is a case of massive mold infestations at Trader Joe's bakeries and/or food storage facilities. These facilities need to be raided and inspected ASAP. —MaxLucas
  • I don't personally know anything about mold, but I know it's not a Davis-specific issue, because I've had the same problems at the Sacramento location. I used to tolerate it because I assumed it was because their products aren't chock full of preservatives. But having read Max's comment, it seems more disturbing now. —ScottMeehleib
  • For what it's worth, I buy bread here on a regular basis and have not had any mold. Perhaps I am just buying different bread. In fact, the bread we've bought hangs out in the refrigerator for quite a long time before it molds. It's also worth noting that, in general, the products labelled as "Trader Joe's" (or some variant) are not actually made by TJ's, but by someone else with whom TJ's has an arrangement. I say this not to excuse them for selling a moldy product, but just to point out that TJ's food comes from many, many sources. —CovertProfessor
  • I too have had this problem with certain produce products and when I called the manager he told me to come by with my receipt and he would refund or replace the item depending on what I wanted. Zeeba

2012-10-27 23:29:16   So they have a sign at this location about patrons deserving to shop in an environment free of solicitations and yet this one fundraising group insists upon ACCOSTING me whenever I visit. I pointed out the sign to them and they were rude and dismissive stating they couldn't legally be removed and almost seemed to enjoy flaunting it in front of a sign that implies they are not wanted. I have no desire to donate to them and almost want to picket people not to. —OliviaY

2013-01-18 13:41:07   I love Trader Joe's! I lived practically across the street from the store right up to opening day, then moved to the other side of Davis :-( That is why it is so disappointing that the parking spots are so small - it's a 30 minute bike ride to the store and I am no longer a student so I don't bike that direction much anymore, and I have found myself pulling into the parking lot only to get frustrated and end up going to SaveMart. I can't and won't deal with the parking lot. Also - WHO in God's name is the woman with the insane witch cackle laugh?! The parking lot and the employee with that obnoxious LAUGH (The first couple times I heard it I thought it was fake; nope, very WTF real) are enough to make me cringe so much that I just stopped going to TJ's. And my kitchen is sad because of it. —mooodavis

2013-04-07 21:06:19   Pretty decent Gruner Veltliner from Hungary in stock now for $5. —MikeyCrews

2014-02-28 16:58:00   Very happy with Trader Joe's in Davis. I discovered it late, but prices are way lower than at Co-Op and Wholefoods, even for exactly the same products. They don't have (nearly) as much as Co-Op, but what they do have, is very high quality at a (very) low price range. Thank you, Trader Joe's! —ConstantiaOomen

2015-01-20 21:27:48   I've had many nice TJ's interactions, but I wonder if they've hired a lot of new people in the past few months. I feel like the cashiers used to say "thank you" when I helped bag my own groceries, but now it's just expected. And although I'm happy to start bagging my own groceries while the cashier is busy ringing me up, I believe he or she should then take over and finishing bagging them (and not just stare at me silently or chat with someone else while I bag everything). On a recent visit, the line just inched along because the cashier and the bagger were having a conversation about a text argument the cashier had had with her boyfriend. By the time I got up front, the cashier just said "hello" before going right back to her conversation, and the bagger proceeded to stuff all my groceries into one heavy bag (even though she had my other, empty reusable bag).

I've worked a lot of retail jobs, and I don't mean to sound entitled or picky. But I'm just saying, by the time I'm done playing cart wars, I don't think it's too much to ask to want to have a quick friendly interaction, pay for my groceries, and then get going. —zombiek


1. Johnson, Kelly. Davis shopping center applies for grocery. Sacramento Business Journal. 2006-06-05
2. St. John, Claire. Stumbling block for Trader Joe’s. The Davis Enterprise. 2006-09-28.
3. St. John, Claire. Council OKs store. The Davis Enterprise. 2006-10-18.
4. St. John, Claire. Mall sues RAS to make way for Trader Joe’s. The Davis Enterprise. 2007-05-17.