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Trader Joe’s Takes over Pretend City

We visited as a guest of the venue

Trader Joe's at Pretend City

Ready for some happy news? Trader Joe’s took over the grocery store exhibit at Pretend City in Irvine! This fun and engaging children’s museum started off their New Year with a bang. My family and I were over the moon hearing the news and were very excited to get a sneak peek. Donnie Martin, Orange County Regional Vice President for Trader Joe’s, was in person giving us the tour of the new kid-scale Trader Joe’s. “We are so excited to bring a Trader Joe’s grocery exhibit to help children throughout the neighborhood and beyond learn about the adventures in shopping,” said Donnie.

Welcome to Pretend City

Welcome to the Pretend City Trader Joe's

I’ll admit I have shopped at plenty of grocery stores, but personally, my family and I are huge Trader Joe’s fans. It’s a weekly trip for me and always an enjoyable one, even the day before Thanksgiving when the lines are wrapped around the store. For my husband Jarred and I, it’s the vibe of the store, the great food, the super friendly employees, and the Fearless Flyer. For our boys, it’s the demo area, the Hawaiian shirts and the bells of course.

Hawaiian shirts in the Pretend City Trader Joe's

Ring the bell in the Pretend City Trader Joe's

The Trader Joe’s exhibit at Pretend City was hands down, the most realistic attraction, where my kids have ever played. I took my two sons, Piercen, 4, and Harlen, 2. As we walked in, Piercen immediately noticed the dress up section and asked me to button up his Hawaiian employee dress up shirt, then headed straight to a register to scan other kids items and place them in to-go Trader Joe’s bags. I watched him scan the barcode on the items, press ‘buttons’ on the register and completely engage in play with all the other kids. I was amazed how well he knew the process. He even told a couple of kids that he liked what they had picked out. I’m sure he’ll love our next trip to a real Trader Joe’s.

Pretend Play in the Trader Joe's Pretend City

The shopping carts, check stands, registers, wall displays, shelving, wood binned produce areas, the flower stand, and even the demo station were an exact replica of an actual Trader Joe’s store just shrunken down to kid size. The products and labels were identical to the actual Trader Joe’s store. Harlen, 2, was trying to open numerous boxes of cereal and his favorite Organic Pops, thinking they were the real thing.

Shopping in the Pretend City Trader Joe's

While Piercen was working at the ‘Hubble’ register and ringing his bell for fun, my little Harlen was strolling his little Trader Joe’s shopping cart around, filling it with tons of bananas, water, coffee, yogurt, milk, laundry detergent and the list goes on. All of the items he sees mommy putting into her cart at the real store. As I’d be helping him put items back onto the shelves, he’d be picking up other items and starting a whole new shopping adventure. It was so fun!

Weighing produce in the Pretend City Trader Joe's

Both of my sons were walking around laughing and showing me all of the items we normally get at the real store. They recognized it all and were thrilled to have the chance to ‘shop’ at their own little Trader Joe’s like big boys. We were there for about 2 hours straight, yes, inside that Trader Joe’s exhibit. It was a hit, and they have asked to go back already!

Working the cash register at the Trader Joe's in Pretend City

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever wondered what the bells are for, at Trader Joe’s? I have and finally found the answer. One ring means let’s open another register; two rings means a crew member needs help and three rings means a manager’s help is needed. The exhibit is adorable and is aesthetically identical to the real store.

Pretend City Trader Joe's Cash Register

There are a few things I’d like to mention that as a mom, I really appreciated. The Trader Joe’s exhibit really focused on not only fun and ‘neighborhood’ feel but also visibly encouraged learning. Their product shelves were color coordinated and clearly introduced the primary colors. The way the shelves were set-up at all different levels of height allowed for even the smallest babe to see different colors, numbers in the prices, and words on the labels. The produce scale introduced different weights, and the exhibit even offered two different sized shopping carts. One was for smaller children, like Harlen, 2, and the other a little bigger for older kids, like Piercen, 4. The entire exhibit proved to strengthen fine motor skills and truly be a wonderful new addition to Pretend City.

The grand opening was Monday, January 16. I highly recommend you and your family plan a trip to Pretend City and check it out!

Thank you Trader Joe’s and Pretend City for another great experience!!

Trader Joe's at Pretend City Children's Museum


Honestly, you won’t catch me without a smile on my face. I am an easy-going wife and super patient stay at home mom, always looking to excite my busy boys with adventurous fun! We love to be outdoors running wild and getting dirty. My boys are pretty rugged, [so as a tom-boy myself], we are the best of friends. We especially love bike riding together, splashing around at the beach and hanging out with those who want to join in on the fun. After starting a family with my childhood sweetheart, Jarred, and becoming a mother to our sons, now 3.5 years old and 18 months old, I was given a purpose in life! I thrive to balance every day, as a sincerely loving wife, mom, sister, aunt and daughter. Family is everything to me.
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