Ok, having just concluded a trip to Trader Joe's not more than 10 minutes ago, I can testify to the accuracy of this very helpfull insider's guide to the store:
Adopt a Soviet Mentality. This is the first thing nearly every regular TJ's shopper mentions: Products appear suddenly, work their way into your daily routine, and then disappear with no warning.
Some very tasty Pad Tai noodles, which came with childishly simply instructions, have been a regular part of my diet for the last couple of months. Alas, today they were gone. The shelf space is now devoted to bags of charcoal briquetts, which I could never get into, taste-wise.
The Shopping-List Guarantee. If you go to TJ's with a shopping list for a dinner party or even a moderately complex recipe, you are guaranteed to leave the store without finding at least one item on the list. Just accept the fact that you will have to hit one or two other stores on the way home. This raises a bigger issue: TJ's has great prices on many staples, and it's easy to forget that its selection is tiny compared to a real supermarket. It is not a one-stop shopping solution.
Case in point: was stuck today with the craving for bagels and lox. Joe gave me an excellent deal on the smoked salmon and some tasting looking bagels. However, no cream cheese was to be found in the entire store. A key ingredient. Holds the whole thing together. I've got to go out again to the regular supermarket. Trader Joe's requires strategy and planning to realize its full potential.