Trader Joe's $3 Mini Totes Reselling for Hundreds

The mini canvas tote is the latest item to cause a stir on social media.

A Trader Joe's mini tote bag in Palmyra, N.J., March 13, 2024.
A Trader Joe's mini tote bag in Palmyra, N.J., March 13, 2024.
AP Photo/Christina Paciolla

NEW YORK (AP) β€” Trader Joe's mini canvas tote is the latest item to cause a stir on social media, so much so that resellers are taking advantage of the hype.

The mini totes are offered in four colors β€” blue, red, green, and yellow β€” and they are all in high demand. The bags, retailing for $2.99, are now advertised on platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace for many times their original price.

Offers from third-party sellers range significantly, but as of Wednesday, listings ranged from about $20 for a single bag to as high as $999 for a set of four.

Videos shared on social media show crowds of customers visiting Trader Joe's stores hoping to get their hands on one of the highly-coveted mini totes. Beyond the checkout line, TikTokers have gained tens of thousands of views for sharing and customizing their bags with detail paint, buttons, and embroidery designs.

"Our Mini Canvas Tote Bags certainly sold more quickly than we anticipated," said Nakia Rohde, a spokesperson for Trader Joe's. "Before we had the opportunity to promote them in any way, customers across the country found them at their neighborhood Trader Joe's."

While Trader Joe's is no stranger to having its products go viral, the Monrovia, California-based grocery chain also said it does not condone the reselling its products β€” with Rohde stressing that "our customers, in our stores, are our focus."

Exclusivity and limited supply are always key factors impacting both prices and consumer behavior. Beyond the added influence of the internet, that's previously been displayed in demand for products ranging from the scarcity of Huy Fong Foods' Sriracha to empty toilet paper shelves seen at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We as humans seem to hoard things that social media makes us think is desirable or important," Jay Zagorsky, a clinical associate professor at Boston University's Questrom School of Business, told The Associated Press via email. He added that such bulk buying β€” whether it's Trader Joe's mini totes or COVID-era toilet paper β€” can also help consumers feel more secure, as future availability may be uncertain.

Of course, Trader Joe's mini totes aren't the first to become a viral sensation. Stanley cups, for example, similarly skyrocketed to online fame this year, with demand for the tumblers causing chaos at retailers nationwide. Limited-edition Stanley cups have also been priced up by third-party sellers.

The mini totes have sold out in stores across the country, but shoppers can expect to see them return. "We do have more Trader Joe's Mini Canvas Tote Bags coming," said Rohde. "Customers can expect to see them in our stores in late summer."

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