Line man for Kings County: Cobble Hill man tracks Trader Joe’s line on Twitter

Trader Joe’s Court Street
The line outside Trader Joe’s on Court Street in mid-March, prior to strict social distancing guidelines.
File photo by Kevin Duggan

He’s putting the line online!

A Cobble Hill man has begun updating neighbors about the line outside Trader Joe’s Court Street outpost using the Twitter handle @TraderJoesLine, allowing would-be shoppers to assess the wait time before heading to their beloved emporium of discounted groceries and Hawaiian shirt-clad employees.

“It was really just boredom, looking out the window every day,” said Jacob Shwirtz, who lives across the street from the Atlantic Avenue food seller. “At one point I figured, why not make it a useful service for my neighbors.”

Shwirtz, who is unaffiliated with the California-based grocery chain, posts updates on request — color-coded in green, yellow, or red to signal on the amount of shoppers waiting to get in the store, which has been overrun amid the outbreak of COVID-19. 

“Even before the pandemic, it would be a super popular Trader Joe’s, but over the past few weeks there’s always been a line,” he said. 

Trader Joe’s, where employees are known to deftly organize lines, has limited the amount of customers permitted inside their outposts in an effort to keep people a safe distance from one another to help stem the spread of the highly-contagious virus.

Those measures have caused the line outside to stretch several dozen people long, sometimes snaking all around the block, according to Shwirtz.

“Last Saturday, there were well over 100 people wrapping around the entire block, that was insane,” he said.

Shwirtz seen watching the line from his apartment window.Jacob Shwirtz

The line guru recommends dropping by early on rainy days, such as April 13, when he counted a mere eight patrons waiting in the wet weather. 

“If you can bear the bad weather, that’s the biggest tip I would give people,” he said.

One Twitter user applauded Shwirtz’s updates, saying she would like to see someone emulate the idea for other gourmet grocers. 

“This is so brilliant. Now if I could find one keeping watch at Gowanus Whole Foods,” tweeted Kelly Gordon.

Another Twitter user echoed Gordon’s praise, lauding the innovative and “important” use of social media.  

“I knew at some point in my life my most important twitter follow would be a trader joe’s line tracker,” wrote Max Bohm. “I just didnt [sic] expect it to happen so soon…”

Shwirtz has ventured on the line only twice in the past few weeks, saying he prefers to get his groceries at smaller local businesses, because being a parent juggling his job and his kids adapting to remote schooling doesn’t allow him to wait for hours on end in the street. 

“I just don’t want to stand in that line,” he said. “And it’s also good to support smaller local businesses.”