I remember the very first time I entered our Trader Joe's in Portland, Maine - the store felt different from other supermarkets - the aisles were wider and arranged diagonally, rather than the standard vertical, or perpendicular format; the shelving didn't seem as high as in the larger supermarket chains, so everything felt more "open" and this openness caused it to feel like a more social environment. The walls were decorated with murals of local scenery painted by local artists. It felt more like a friendly farmers market than a corporate food chain. From Disney's "Place" criterion, Trader Joe's is very strong.
On one particular shopping trip, I remember asking a woman in the frozen food aisle where I could find roasted almonds. She didn't just give me the easy answer that I was looking for - the aisle number - she stopped what she was doing, and walked me across the store directly to the almonds, and showed me the various roasted varieties they carried. Whenever I check out, I can't help but notice the gregarious nature of the cashiers - they ask a lot of questions - I don't mean the standard, "Did you find everything OK?" that I get at the local Hannaford, but more personalized, helpful questions like the one I was asked when I bought a can of coffee beans: "Do you have a grinder for the beans?" Trader Joe's also nails the "People" factor.
While most businesses work on carefully orchestrated processes, we customers don't always notice them as such. But on that first visit to Trader Joe's, I noticed the sign at the check out counter that directs me to place my full cart on the same side as cashier, while I wait on the other side. Something TJ's does that other supermarkets don't - is empty your cart for you. That's another nuance to the Trader Joe's experience that makes TJ's an easier place to shop.