A line of over 300 people anxiously lined the strip mall housing the new Trader Joe’s store in Salt Lake City, the first in Utah.
Entertained by a live band playing steel drums and Trader Joe’s employees dressed in Hawaiian shirts and leis, customers slowly crept toward the entrance to the store in anticipation of the lei cutting.
Eager customers filed into the store after the lei cutting, the company’s version of a ribbon cutting. Every patron was greeted by smiling Trader Joe’s employees and a Hawaiian lei.
People quickly filled their carts with Trader Joe’s products and produce while others rushed to be first to check-out. The first customer, David Stinson, purchased just two bananas with the intent of doing more shopping afterwards.
Stinson, an Orem resident, arrived around 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29, and slept in his car. Stinson said Trader Joe’s is “the best thing since sliced bread.”
“They have great produce and dairy, and it’s more health conscious,” Stinson said.
Some Trader Joe’s fans in line were originally from other states where the store is more popular. Katie Johnson is a Salt Lake City resident but native Californian who would fill her car full of Trader Joe’s products whenever she went home.
“I like their selection of interestingly healthy food,” Johnson said.
Mercedes Schmidt is another native Californian who has been waiting for the store to come to Utah.
“I like that they offer organic food at cheap prices,” Schmidt said, although she is disappointed the Utah store will not be selling the company’s well-known wine.
Trader Joe’s prides itself on good quality food at good prices. Rory Violette is the Captain of the Salt Lake City store and has been with the company for almost 20 years. The company has a nautical theme; employees are called mates or crew members.
“We’ve got phenomenal food at great prices, and we have phenomenal customers that are passionate about our food,” Violette said as customers swarmed around the bustling store.
Trader Joe’s has a large selection of organic and hard-to-find foods that set it apart from other grocery stores.
“I’m hoping it just gives them another option for great food,” Violette said. “We want to be (a customer’s) first and favorite grocery store.”
Violette hopes the new store will enhance the community with its selection of food.
“Its really going to bring more awareness to great food and good prices, and it’s a fun place to shop. Our crew members will take care of you.”
Trader Joe’s is located at 634 East 400 South, Salt Lake City.