As Mariah Carey limbered up on Dec. 1 in preparation for her holiday duties, so, too, did loyal Trader Joe’s shoppers. Customers flocked to the cult-favorite grocery at the beginning of the month to stock up on limited-time holiday favorites.
Jingle Jangle, a seasonal Trader Joe’s favorite
Besides dog advent calendars and gingerbread house kits, perhaps no product is more coveted than Jingle Jangle, a holiday snack mix combining the sweet and savory flavors of popcorn, pretzels, and chocolate.
The product is so beloved that it has inspired new recipes; customers reportedly travel hours and cross country lines to pick up a tin of Jingle Jangle, while other hoarded tins to be gifted for the holidays.
But the high demand for the limited-time product also means it sells out quickly. Because Trader Joe’s does not sell products online, customers must shop for items in person. Those who are unlucky enough to buy a tin from Trader Joe’s must resort to other means: the Trader Joe’s gray market.
Vendors on Amazon and eBay have swooped in to resell Jingle Jangle to wanting customers, but it comes at a steep price. The original product sells for $9.99 at most Trader Joe’s stores, while sellers on Amazon and eBay are putting Jingle Jangle online for about $24 per tin. One reseller even advertised the product with the year, calling it a “collectible” in a now-deleted listing.
Some buyers are grateful to find the product anywhere, even if it costs a pretty penny.
“Sadly, I don’t have a Trader Joe’s locally, so this past Christmas was somewhat less Jingly & jangly,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “Then….I recouped my senses, and thought…what if..? What IF…?? Yup. There it was on Amazon.com, so I treated myself to an after-Christmas treat…..and, yes, I ate the whole thing myself.”
But other buyers were disappointed with the product they found on Amazon, which didn’t live up to the quality Trader Joe’s promised.
“So disappointed. Chocolate was mostly melted,” one review read.
“Sadly when we received this package and opened it the items were stale,” another dismayed buyer wrote. “We enjoyed this product when purchased from trader joes. they were out so we ordered on line for $19 which is a lot of money for a snack that is stale. We hope to have our money returned as it is not edible.”
Trader Joe’s did not respond to the Daily Dot’s multiple requests for comment, but the company addressed product resales in an April 2019 Inside Trader Joe’s podcast episode.
“The store is our brand and our products work the best when they’re sold as part of the overall customer experience within the store,” said President of Stores Jon Basalone in the podcast.
A Trader Joe’s spokesperson shared in a 2019 statement to Refinery29 that resold products are unauthorized, and the company “cannot stand behind the quality, safety or value of any Trader Joe’s product sold outside of our store.”
Trader Joe’s condemnation of product resale hasn’t stopped savvy entrepreneurs.
In 2019, a couple reportedly made $30,000 by reselling Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning online, hiking up the product’s original $1.99 cost to $6.75. The couple, Juston and Kristen Herbert, bought the seasoning in bulk from Trader Joe’s, individually packaged each jar, and sent them to an Amazon warehouse until the product was distributed to buyers.
What is retail arbitrage?
The practice of buying products to resell them to make a profit, also called retail arbitrage, extends beyond Trader Joe’s. TikTokers have shared their successes in reselling Dollar Tree and Dollar General products. One customer purchased Orange Creme Pop Twinkies for $0.01 and sold boxes on Amazon for $16.99.
While the profits resellers make through retail arbitrage make it a viable side hustle, some buyers are frustrated by the decreased availability of limited-time products at major retailers.
Before Halloween, customers could not find 12-foot skeleton decorations at Home Depot and instead had to look online to buy the item. The skeleton, originally $299 at Home Depot, costs up to $1,000 on resale websites.
Jingle Jangle enjoyers have fallen victim to a similar fate. Redditors on r/traderjoes shared their frustration with Trader Joe’s resellers, who have developed the reputation of exploiting customers looking for their favorite products.
“I don’t know what jingle jangle is but I DESPISE people that hoard at any grocery story [sic] especially TJ’s where there’s not a lot of inventory at any given time,” one user wrote on a 2022 post about the product. “It’s just gross behavior.”
“I was so sad they were out when I went yesterday,” another wrote. “Probably another jerk buying out the store.”