We’re back in Madison after three days at Walt Disney World. CJ and I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up stuff for dinner and realized: Trader Joe’s is Disney World.
- Part of what you’re paying for is a sense of, well, “fun.” WDW employees — who are called “cast members” — wear costumes. Trader Joe’s employees — who are called “crew members” — wear Hawaiian shirts. It is part of their job, not just to be pleasant to customers, but to appear actively happy to be talking to customers. And maybe they are! You can imagine that if you were the kind of person who likes chatting with strangers you’d be drawn to working at WDW or TJ.
- Iron-clad branding. Just about every single thing you can buy, see, or eat at Disney is Disney-branded. Same for Trader Joe’s (even if the product is surplus Sabra hummus repackaged in Trader Joe’s tubs.)
- Limited selection. Disney World restaurants have short menus; they need to get thousands of people in and out fast. There aren’t twelve roller coasters like at Six Flags, there are two. At Trader Joe’s there aren’t a hundred different kinds of Cheerios. Just the Trader Joe’s kind. The problems of choice are taken away from you and this release is itself a kind of fun.
Unfinished thought: both Disney and Trader Joe’s are trying to project a spirit of California.