If you’ve ever wandered through the aisles of Trader Joe’s, picked up a bottle of its Everything But the Bagel seasoning blend and thought, Shit, I bet this would be good on avocado toast, then you’re probably a reasonable individual.
But if you’ve power-walked into Trader Joe’s, making a direct line to the spice aisle so you could throw 60 or 70 bottles of Everything But the Bagel seasoning blend into your otherwise empty cart, then hello, Juston and Kristen Herbert! Thank you for reading!
The Herberts are the California couple who run the Flipping Profits website, as well as the Flipping Profits YouTube channel, and their own Flipping Profits parody Supreme T-shirts. In their 15 videos (and counting, we’re sure), they explain their ideas about retail arbitrage, which is a multisyllabic way of saying “they buy stuff at assorted stores and then resell it for a profit.” The two of them have found ways to flip a wide range of products, everything from bottles of Ajax liquid dish soap to wireless earbuds to yes, Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning blend.
“We’re trying to tell people anybody can do this. You can do it from your home, and you can make a pretty decent income just by walking into a store,” Juston told Money. “I guarantee you’re walking past profit every single day.”
In a now-deleted YouTube video, the two of them explained how they started reselling the seasoning on Amazon, telling would-be product flippers that it was a good starter product because it was always available at Trader Joe’s, and because it always retails for $2.99. A number of Lil’ Herbert Arbitrage Achievers seem to have taken this advice: There are now close to two dozen sellers on Amazon who are pushing this item, as well as other Trader Joe’s seasonings. (MUNCHIES has reached out to both Trader Joe’s and to the Herberts for comment.)
In the 16 minutes of that video, Juston was filmed as he bought 71 jars of Everything But the Bagel for a total of $171.29, telling the bewildered cashier that they were making gift baskets and sending them to family members. (Somehow, they kept a straight face when telling Money that they try not to be “obnoxious” when they’re deciding how many of each item to push into their carts).
As the couple explains, once they’ve purchased the items, they bag each one individually, box them up, and send them all to Amazon. When an order is placed, a sure-to-be-exhausted Amazon worker repackages it in an Amazon box and ships it out to the buyer. Then the Herberts sit back, give a couple of satisfied exhales, and count their 80-cent-per-jar profit. Or that’s what they used to do, anyway; Kristen said that they aren’t currently re-selling this particular seasoning.
If flipping Trader J’s shit sounds familiar, that’s probably because a Canadian man named Mike Hallett did it for five years, on a much larger scale. Hallett ran Pirate Joe’s, a Vancouver store that was stocked entirely with Trader Joe’s products that he and his associates bought in the United States, then drove across the border to Vancouver to sell at a slight markup. Unsurprisingly, Trader Joe’s took him to court, accusing him of trademark infringement. After a lengthy court battle, the two Joe’s came to an agreement, and the bootleg version closed its doors in 2017.
“I’m mostly relieved, I have to tell you,” Hallatt told The Guardian. “Many times I’ve thought I’ve got to just give this up, this is ridiculous. Then people would come up to me and thank me for doing it. That was the curse: we had so many people who love what we were up to and yet it was just so devilishly hard to do.”
It’s not quite as hard to empty the spice shelf at your local Trader Joe’s—but should you? The company would prefer you didn’t. “We do not authorize the reselling of our products and cannot stand behind the quality, safety or value of any Trader Joe’s product sold outside of our store,” a spokesperson told Money.
If you lowkey need Everything But The Bagel seasoning for your own enjoyment, it might not be a bad time to stop by to pick one up. Or two. Maybe two.