Friday, June 17, 2011

A report from the Trader Joes frontlines.

The morning buzz in the local Twitterverse made it sound like there were Vancouver-level riots and craziness at the new Trader Joes opening today in Salem, OR. With 100 waiting in line when the doors opened, Salem was giving TJ's a warm welcome. Come hell or high water, I planned to take a spin through the store to show my support for Salem FINALLY getting its due and snagging one of the stores.

Don't get me wrong... it was busy. Very busy. But certainly doable. All checklines were open, 5-8 customers deep waiting. The parking lot was full. People were streaming in and out. But everyone had a smile on their face and were pretty happy. (Well, almost everyone. A woman I spoke to in line wanted to know why they were so busy; I guess the big banner on the front the proclaimed "OPEN JUNE 17TH" wasn't enough of an explanation.)

At 4:30ish, I took the plunge. As a seasoned Trader Joes fanatic, I went in with a plan: determine what size and layout they had chosen, get a handful of must-have items, and share in the party like atmosphere.

Mission accomplished!

Despite the mobs, shelves remained fairly well stocked. You could tell the fans from the spectators; some, like me, were focused; the others could be identified by statements such as, "OMG, Ethel, LOOK! COLORED OLIVES! AND ONLY $3.99!"

I wish that were a joke.

At the checkout, I chatted with some lovely fellow Salemites who were very pleased. "Salem used to not be cool enough for a TJ's," one woman said with a snooty play in her voice. "But now we are!" I said in return and we both broke down laughing. An older couple in front of me took interest in what I had in my basket -- an odd mix: limes, lemons, dried Italian meats, double cream gouda, candy, nuts, cookies. Lots of cookies. Three types of cookies to be exact. We talked about cooking, exchanged ideas and suggestions. The old guy got a little frisky (you go, boy!) and everyone was having a blast.

At the checkout, the bagger was a manager from the Lake Oswego store. He said the turnout was really impressive. He seemed pleasantly surprised. "We might break a record," he said. "This is a really good turnout for a store opening. It might be this busy in Manhattan, but who imagined here?" (He clarified when asked by the couple in front of me that most of the staff there were indeed from Salem; they just had extra staff in to help during the startup from other areas.)

I made a beeline for the guys at Blue Element Scuba, and stood in the office doorway and proclaimed, "Gaze upon the bag of goodness that I did NOT have to drive to Tigard, Corvallis, or Eugene to get!!"

We tore into maple cookies, sesame cashews, dark chocolate peppermints and more. So much for dinner.


  1. I hear that after 5pm, the check lines all spanned to the back of the store. Good thing I went before everyone got off work!

  2. We attempted a visit at just about 5pm. The parking lot was really full. So, we opted to wait until this morning. So thrilled that we were finally deemed worthy of a TJ's in Salem. We were there at 8am this morning - and the place was already quite full for that early hour. I'm so thrilled that I don't have to drive an hour to "get my fix". What a different shopping experience to not have to worry about purchasing enough to last until my next visit. Now it's only 3 minutes away and I can go ANY TIME! Hooray!