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Trader Joe’s $2.99 mini-tote bag is being resold for as much as $1,000 on eBay

A spokesperson for the grocery chain says it has more mini-totes coming “in late summer.”
Trader Joe’s Mini Canvas Tote Bag is the new Stanley Quencher.
Trader Joe’s Mini Canvas Tote Bag is the new Stanley Quencher.Trader Joe's
/ Source: TODAY

“Are you wearing the c—?”

“Canvas mini-tote bag from Trader Joe’s? Yeah, I am.”

A miniature version of the grocer’s signature reusable shopping bag has taken the internet by storm, causing shoppers to line up for restocks, swarm the product with a fervor reminiscent of the pink Stanley cup that went viral in January and resell them for black market-like prices.

Trader Joe’s describes the bag, sold in navy, green, red and yellow for $2.99, as “ideal for smaller shopping trips.” It can contain a dozen apples or a “small paperback” paired with a cheese and a baguette, according to the chain’s website. Adriana Sosa, 26, can fit her iPad, a set of Apple AirPods Max, a cosmetics pouch, water bottle, wallet and more.

The bags have been for sale since at least Feb. 27 — when the Instagram account @traderjoeslist dedicated to highlighting notable products from the grocer posted about the mini-tote.

“Our Mini Canvas Tote Bags certainly sold more quickly than we anticipated. Before we had the opportunity to promote them in any way, customers across the country found them at their neighborhood Trader Joe’s,” a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s tells TODAY.com.

Y.J. Wang, 28, was able to snag a bag in all four colors on March 1 with little trouble at her local store in New York. She learned of the new item, fittingly, through an Instagram video about it.

“Pretty much as soon as I saw the video, I was like, ‘I have to go to Trader Joe’s to see if it’s in stock,’” Wang tells TODAY.com. “When when I got there, they they were actually out of the blue and the green already, which I felt really bad about because I really wanted those colors ... But then I waited maybe 10 more minutes, and they actually restocked, thankfully.”

Wang posted a video about snagging the totes. In it, a Trader Joe’s employee restocks the bags, a couple customers take pictures and customers check out with ease.

“There were people waiting around the stall while there was only two colors,” Wang adds. But when she went back to the store March 2, and there were still plenty of bags in stock, she says.

Videos of the scene inside Trader Joe’s stores shared to social media just days later painted a different picture. On March 4, TikTok users @angela.cisneros and @elinorxkim shared videos from inside stores demonstrating the mayhem the viral bag created at store locations as people scrambled to get their hands on one.

In the videos, customers stand by waiting for employees to restock the bags. Once the product is set out, the swarm begins, as people grab any of the bags in sight. Elinor Kim told the New York Times she purchased seven of the bags, adding, “I wasn’t really sure what I was going to use it for, but I felt like with everyone grabbing, it made me want to get it, too.”

In @angela.cisneros’ post, a small carton with the mini-totes stood at the front of the store, filled the brim, when customers started walking in en masse, surrounding the stand as most people grab several bags.

Caroline Hernandez posted a video from a store in Chino Hills, California, arriving before the store's 8 a.m. opening on March 2. After waiting in the line that had formed in front of the doors, Hernandez entered the store with a mass of people, collectively beelining for the totes.

“This was my first time ever experiencing people running and circling an item,” Hernandez says.

In Nashville, Sosa was able to purchase two bags — in green and blue — on March 2.

“No one was going crazy about it,” she says.

Sosa and Wang credit the virality to two factors: a preexisting popularity of tote bags and the price.

From the evergreen New Yorker tote bag to Baggu, tote bags have become staple wardrobe pieces in recent years, and high fashion brands like Marc Jacobs and Dior are joining in.

“Tote bags have been very trendy and popular for the younger generation for like the past couple of years, so it’s just always so fun when you see brands coming out with their own tote bag or like your favorite influencer,” Sosa says. “But ... they’re very expensive.”

Influencer Emily Mariko faced backlash for selling an oversized “farmers market” tote $120, though it sold out almost immediately.

Some social media users say stores have now limited the number of Trader Joe’s mini-tote bags customers can purchase at checkout.

The mini-totes have already hit resale sites. On eBay, a set of the bags in all four colors — a less than $20 value altogether — was listed for $999.99. Another listing offers only the red mini-tote for $280.

“Our customers, in our stores, are our focus; we do not endorse the re-sale of any of our products, anywhere. We do have more Trader Joe’s Mini Canvas Tote Bags coming. Customers can expect to see them in our stores in late summer,” the Trader Joe’s spokesperson says.

Wang says after she posted her video about buying four of the totes, several strangers sent her DMs asking if she could ship a bag to them.

Instead of keeping all four colors, Wang and her friends plan to do a draw and each keep one for themselves. As fans of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” a show centered around “benders” who can control an element, each person’s blind pick out of the bunch will serve as a way to sort the group.

“It’s been like a joke among my friends, like, ‘Oh, are you a Waterbender? Are you an Earthbender?’” she says. “I’ve seen people do it with Harry Potter, too.”

The mad dash to snag another a viral product took over social media earlier this year.

“Are trader Joe bags supposed to be the new Stanley cup craze? I’m confused,” one X user posted March 1.

The pink Stanley Quencher, sold exclusively at Target, caused long lines outside and some fights inside of stores, leaving many onlookers asking, “Why?”