The anticipated opening of Trader Joe’s on Friday morning was followed by a weekend of big interest from the State College community.
The California-based specialty grocery store opened Friday morning in Trader Joe’s Plaza, 243 Patriot Lane, with so much popularity that some customers elected to return later in the evening for less commotion.
The store is Penn State-themed from front to back, customary to Trader Joe’s community-integrated tradition, Store Captain Justin Hewitt said.
The checkout registers are each marked with a street sign mimicking some of the most well-known roads in State College, allowing customers to choose if they want to pay on Atherton Street or Allen Street. Also, the food sampling station sits beneath the title “Penn Taste.”
Employees in Hawaiian shirts were prevalent throughout the store, and several customers made note of how easy it was to get help while shopping.
Above the customer service desk — dubbed the “Lion’s Den” — is an artistic rendering of the lion shrine with a lei draped around its neck. Hewitt said every Trader Joe’s has some crewmembers that do all the art in-house, from display signs to product placards on the shelves.
Hewitt said the excitement surrounding the store’s opening had encouraged the employees to do some fun things for the opening day.
“The reception from the community has been fantastic, and it only equaled our excitement to be here,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt said there are no sales or special clubs to join for discounts because the store always supplies products at the lowest price.
Alex Koury said it was his first time coming to Trader Joe’s and described the store as “packed with good stuff.”
“It’s kind of surprising that they can have this much selection for such cheap prices,” Koury (senior-astrophysics) said.
Elise Kaiser and Noah Connolly came together Sunday. Kaiser said she’s been to another Trader Joe’s before, but Connolly said he had never been to the store.
Kaiser, Class of 2012, said the State College Trader Joe’s is “a lot smaller” than other Trader Joe’s she’s been to but said it’s fitting for the size of the area.
Connolly said he had a different impression of what Trader Joe’s was before coming into the store, but he said he was happy with his experience.
“It’s a good selection of weirder food, and it’s more in-your-face than a normal grocery store,” Connolly said. “The whole scene is different. It’s kind of like an indoor farmer’s market-style.”
Both Kaiser and Connolly said they found the prices “very fair” given the quality of their purchase. They agreed the only remaining step was to perform a “taste test” to answer any final questions.
Hewitt said he believes the store has fully embraced the State College community and Penn State and said he was hopeful Trader Joe’s would be an involved member of the community.
“One of our philosophies is being a community grocery store,” Hewitt said. “The artwork is representative of the community, and in the future, we will do things to help out.”