I have never seen anything so well organized as the Trader Joe's opening this morning.
There were only about a dozen people waiting when the store opened at 8 a.m. Despite the excitement, people seemed to know just when to show up. A steel drum band played, and customers began wandering from tasting station to tasting station.
Before I headed over, I thought it would be like Black Friday. But it wasn't. By 8:50, there were only about five people waiting in each of the efficient checkout lines. Everything was moving.
Shopping carts were filled with pumpkins, flowers, and bananas. People were sampling hot cider and wine -- yes, wine -- before 9 a.m. This is my kind of store!
Some of the crowd favorites were cookies peanut butter (ginger snaps broken up in every kid's favorite spread), apple cinnamon goat cheese (self-explanatory), and green plant juice (I don't even want to know what's in this).
In the spirit of the day, a man named Chris actually gave me first dibs on a parking spot. A stranger gave another human being a parking spot -- in Miami. I recognized him in the store. "I'm just in a good mood. It's my day off, and I had to get more of this cookie peanut butter." Asked how he eats it, he replied, "Very slowly."
Crystal McCormick hands out cinnamon apple goat cheese to customers. "I love being here. The people are awesome."
Crew member Peter Jackson pours wine for Kelly Simmons, a California transplant who has missed TJ's inexpensive wines -- until today. "You can pay $30 for a good wine, but this Cabernet is wonderful for the price point [$9.99]." As we spoke, Captain Jodi, the store manager, announced that Burger King managers informed her they would start towing cars in their lot next door. Boo for BK for being a bad neighbor.
Veteran Trader Joe's shopper Phi Hollinger took her friend Rachel Miller shopping. Phi comes for the cookie butter, mochi ice cream, and spiced apple cider.
Belkis Zamora, Shani Brenner, and Chrissy Parise decided to check out the store on opening day. "We've just bought a few things," Zamora said. "But we'll be back. Oh, yeah, this is going to be a weekly thing."
A customer taking time to smell the roses.
Bobby Finn came down from the Gainesville Trader Joe's to help out for a few days.
Marci Martino said, "I'm so happy to be here. I've been waiting for Trader Joe's to come to our neighborhood."
Patsy Jean-Baptiste, Latisha Pierre, and Marshawn Pierre were all smiles as they waited to check out. Marshawn was especially eager to crack open the carrot juice (seriously).
Tin Thu Lee got a warm greeting from Shontia Jackson. Lee is originally from California and was shopping for snacks. "I missed Trader Joe's. They always have something new to try."
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The store featured a live band outside and smooth island tunes inside.
Though lines were long, they moved swiftly. Besides, when you've sampled wine and orange chicken for breakfast, it takes the edge off the wait.