The Man at the End of the Crowded Trader Joe’s Line

Aaron Gilbreath
10 min readJan 3, 2020

How the beloved grocery chain does crowd control in busy stores.

AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Stephen M. Katz

In the produce section of Trader Joe’s store in the Chelsea section of New York, Karl Holman holds an eight-foot-tall sign that reads “End of Line.” It’s six o’clock on a Tuesday, and Holman is managing the line for the second time this shift.

Aaron Gilbreath

Essayist, Journalist, Burritoist. Longreads Editor. Writing: Harper’s, NYT, Slate, Paris Review, VQR, Oxford American, Kenyon Review. 3 nonfiction books.