Crowds Flock to Trader Joe's for Grand Opening
'Captain' Justin Hewitt didn't stop smiling as he greeted the constant flow of customers rushing into Trader Joe's for its natural food fix on the store's grand opening.
Trader Joe's, 234 Patriot Ln., opened at 8 a.m. on Friday, and by 11 a.m., the parking lot was full and Hewitt said curious customers had been coming in steadily all day.
"The anticipation and the buildup that we've received from the customers has matched our excitement that we're here," Hewitt said. "It's pretty packed. Customers' excitement has fueled our energy to be here. We love State College, there are a lot of foodies here. So I think having us in the marketplace gives the customers an additional buying decision and a way to kind of expand everybody's overall quality of what they can buy."
Free samples of fresh-baked cranberry walnut bread in the back of the store had patrons lining up, and the check-out lines – appropriately labeled with various State College Borough street names – stretched into the aisles.
Patrons, ranging from senior citizens to children clinging to their parents to Penn State students, filled baskets and carts with everything from organic yogurt to pre-packaged sushi and trail mix. There was even a service dog along for the trip.
If the hype brought customers in, it was the selection, prices and overall ambiance that will keep them coming back for more, some said.
A group of students clad in Penn State T-shirts trailed their friend, Siddharth Pandey, a junior who was balancing a basket full of items.
"I love shopping here. They have a lot of stuff for vegetarians – I'm vegetarian – they have a lot of options, good food. I just like the atmosphere they have here, too," he said.
Susan Young said she has been hoping and waiting for a Trader Joe's to come to her hometown for some time and is glad she doesn't have to wait for trips to her parents' home in Tucson, Ariz. to visit one of the stores.
"There's one in Tucson and Boston and I was hoping State College would have one closer than Pittsburgh," Young said. "I just had to check it out because I enjoyed the one in Tucson so much."
Trader Joe's is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.