Helene Thompson-Scott of Rochester smiles as she's applauded as she comes through the doors of Trader Joe's. She and her husband, Andy Scott, were the first in line. TINA YEE/Rochester D&C photographer
Written by Tom Tobin, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
PITTSFORD, NY--The line was long, the mood was buoyant and the objective Friday morning was the front entrance to Trader Joe's, the specialty grocer with an especially loyal following.
Trader Joe's ended months of anticipation Friday morning with an opening at Pittsford Plaza that, in terms of excitement level and waiting-line size, rivaled the recent unveiling of the iPhone5 at local retailers. About 300 people watched the traditional ribbon-cutting and the official sliding open of the double-doors.
Once inside, shoppers got a grocery cart, a greeting from a line of employees and a lei garland.
For those who don't know, Trader Joe's is a grocery store with a difference. It sells the usual range of grocery items -produce, meats, packaged goods -but without the preservatives, colorings and other artificial ingredients that many people don't want in their food.
Everything sold carries the Trader Joe's label. The prices are low because, the company says, the middleman is gone. There are no shoppers' cards, public-address systems and the employees wear Hawaiian shirts.
As the time for the store opening, planned for 8 a.m., approached on Friday, smiles were piling up as high as the stack of apples in the produce section.
"I'm thrilled with the turnout,'' store manager Mickey Greenich said.
First in line, and happy to be so, were Andy Scott and Helene Thompson-Scott of Rochester. They arrived at the entrance last night at 9 p.m. and stuck it out. They said they had been to many Trader Joe's around the country.
"We just love Trader Joe's,'' Thompson-Scott said. Andy Scott said he had a list he meant to check off once he and Helene made it into the store. "I love the Italian roast coffee they have,'' he said.
Next to him in line was Susan Korpeck of Brighton. She had arrived at 6 a.m. "They have a great variety of food at good prices,'' she said. She lived for a time in California, Trader Joe's home base, and shopped at the store there.
The line waiters were a mix of novices and old hands. Alison Parker of Brighton said she grew up in Pasadena. "I know Trader Joe's from my childhood,'' she said.
Next to her in line was Cheryl O'Reilly of Henrietta. "I've never been in one of these before,'' she said. "I just want to see what they have.''
Trader Joe's at the Pittsford Plaza is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is located in the plaza near T.J. Maxx.