Folsom, California, USA - October 19, 2011: Storefront view of a Trader Joe's grocery store with parked cars and shoppers going in and out.  Trader Joe's is a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores .The first Trader Joe's store opened in Pasadena, California in 1967 and today there are over 360 stores in 29 states.
Why Are There Bells At
Trader Joe's?
By Chris Day
The crew members at Trader Joe’s — which the company refers to as “traders on the culinary seas” — wear Hawaiian shirts to achieve a tropical look, and every Trader Joe's store sports a tiki/nautical motif. This sea-faring theme includes the large ship's bells at every cash register, which are a form of communication.
The bells are rung to send messages between crew members at the registers and the store's assistant and general managers (called "mates" and "captains," respectively). If a crew member needs another register to open, they ring the bell once to alert fellow crew members that backup is needed.
If the bell tolls twice, it indicates there are questions that need to be answered, and if it is rung three times, it tells the "captain" on duty to come up front and sort through a situation. On rare occasions, the bell will sound four times, sending a message that all hands are needed on deck.
Trader Joe's was named after its founder Joe Coulombe, and it's unclear whether he chose the theme because of his fascination with the seven seas, love of Disneyland's Jungle Cruise ride, or for another reason. He sold the company to Aldi in 1979 but stayed on as Trader Joe's CEO until 1988, and this continuity may be why the nautical theme remains to this day.