It's hard for me to explain in words just how much I love Trader Joe's. All through college in Chapel Hill, N.C., I was a faithful Joe's shopper, going there weekly to buy their cheap but delicious produce, awesome hummus, surprisingly great freezer meals, and, of course, Two-Buck Chuck, a.k.a. Charles Shaw wine. And now, there is one in Mt. Pleasant, and I'm not the only one who's head over heels excited about it.
Today marks Trader Joe's first day at 401 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant and people flocked to the grand opening at 8 a.m. with that Christmas morning look in their eyes.
"We've been preparing a lot for about the past six weeks," says Assistant Manager Brian Travers. "The ball started rolling and just kept on going."
I showed up before 8 a.m. and still had to park in the patch of grass next door where cars were being funneled. Police from the area were directing traffic and managing the masses of people who came out to celebrate the opening and buy some groceries.
"We've been getting tons of calls," says Travers. "We have a very loyal bunch of customers. Some people even planned their vacations around this."
As I stood in line, impatiently waiting to walk into the brand new store, I chatted with people around me. "We put it on the calendar," one woman told me. Most of the other people just raved about their products — the chocolate croissants, the gluten free food, the beer and wine selection, etc.
Once I got inside, I was greeted by friendly staff members who were handing out brightly colored leis to all of the customers. There were balloons, streamers, and pretty much everything that made this feel more like a birthday party mixed with a luau rather than a regular old grocery store opening. Had I been trying to do a full shopping trip, this would have a bit difficult with the crowd.
Trader Joe's started back in the 1950s, although at that time they were known as Pronto Markets. In 1967, the founder changed the name to Trader Joe's, and everything else changed as well. They altered the design of their interior and the staff donned the Hawaiian shirts that they still wear today. Everything in the store is Trader Joe's brand as they buy directly from suppliers and buy in volume as a method for keeping prices low.
Now, for those of you who have never been to a Trader Joe's and think that I and everyone who was there this morning are crazy, head on over and check it out. You may not end up being as obsessed as some of us are with the store, but I guarantee that there will be something there that will make your day.