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I really like living in Ohio, I know the weather can get cold and it's not a tropical location but there are lots of things to do and tons of great local businesses. One of the local places that our family loves to shop at is Trader Joe's. I love how when you find someone else that shops there it's like finding a kindred spirit. Then you both proceed to list what you buy there and why it's good. I always find it funny that every thing that anyone else has on their "must buy at Trader Joe's list" is the "best stuff." Because let's be honest, almost everything there is pretty great. But do you know what? Not only do I love Trader Joe's, but my kids do too. There is rarely any complaining about going to the grocery store when I say that we have to go there that day. So here are my favorite things about Trader Joe's, I'm not going to list all my food I like there because that is a pretty long list so I'll just stick to basics. The things that in my mind make Trader Joe's one of the Things That I Love this Thursday.

Trader Joes Stroopy1. Stroopy the Cow- I don't know who came up with this idea, but it's GENIUS! There is a plush cow that floats around the store, maybe you have seen it and didn't realize what he was doing hanging around the store. Well, did you know that Stroopy the Cow is a scavenger hunt for your kids? That's right!  Once you walk in the door tell the kiddos to keep their eyes peeled for Stroopy the Cow. So while you are on a shopping trip, your kids are on a hunt for Stroopy. When you checkout be sure to have your kids tell the person at the register where Stroopy was and they will score a prize- an organic sucker to be exact. There have been a few times that we've not found Stroopy the Cow, and we have still gotten a sucker just because they are nice there like that.

2. Sample Station- There is almost always some fun new sample to try. Whether it's meatballs or the latest and greatest cheese there is usually some tasty morsel awaiting you towards the back of the store. They also offer free coffee if you are caffeine inclined.

Cookie3. Cookies- So back at the Sample Station sometimes there is a "weird" sample and my boys don't want it. But guess what?! They have Cat Cookies for the kids. All they have to do is ask and whoever is back there will give them a sample cup full of cute cat shaped cookies.

4. Try It Now- Here is the "secret" about the Sample Station... Have you ever seen something at Trader Joe's and thought, "hmm, I wonder if this is any good." Well, all you have to do is take it over to the Sample Station and they will open it for you and let you try it right there! Then if you do like it they won't make you take the opened one, they tell you to get a new one and they will use the open one for samples. It's that AWESOME!?!

Trader Joes Sticker5. Stickers- The registers always have stickers, they are cute Trader Joe's stickers for the kids and you might even get lucky and make it home without them being stuck on you. (Don't you hate that, when you are running errands all day and somehow you ended up with a sticker on you sometime during the day. Then at the end of the you realize that it's on you.. and no one said a thing about the sticker on your butt.. Never happened to you? Me either..)

6. Friendly Staff- All of their staff is helpful, friendly and polite- every time we have been there. The kid-friendly staff is wonderful, it's nice that when we walk around and my littlest boy says "hi" to every passing employee that they stop and pay attention to him. He loves it and it's heartwarming to see how authentically nice they all are.

7. Return policy- There have been those few times that I bought something that we don't enjoy- like that time that I bought Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup... NO SALT... ugh. All you have to do is bring back the item, even if it's opened, and they will refund your money. It's nice to know that I can take a "risk" at Trader Joe's and not be stuck with some weird No Salt soup that I accidentally bought.

Trader Joes8. No Artificial Things- I've been trying to be more careful with what I feed my family lately and was pretty excited when I learned that everything with the Trader Joe's label has NO artificial flavors, colors or GMO's (genetically modified organisms).

Have you ever been to Trader Joe's? What are some of your favorite things about them? Or more importantly what are some of your favorite things to buy there? What should I try next time I'm there- because I'm always up for trying new stuff from Trader Joes. And look at that cutie with his stickers and sucker!

This post is linked at Things I Love Thursday on

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