The long-awaited Trader Joe’s in Stamford’s High Ridge Center opened its doors Thursday, filling the huge space which, for decades, was home to Borders Books.
Residents of Stamford and neighboring towns keen to get their hands on some of the supermarkets’ distinctive products – pumpkin pancake mix, anyone? – have lobbied for the California-based chain to come to the city. A Facebook page entitled “Bring Trader Joe’s to Borders’ Location in Stamford” has been gathering support for the store since 2012, with nearly 450 “likes”.
One shopper, Dana Caan, of Greenwich, even pulled into the parking lot a day early, peering through the glass doors for signs of other customers this afternoon.
“I think it’s great, I don’t have to go all the way to Norwalk!” Caan said before getting back into her car.
A quick sneak peek inside the store showed the space to be considerably larger than its counterpart in Darien; Trader Joe’s has seven Connecticut locations in total, including stores in Danbury, Fairfield, Westport, Orange and West Hartford. The store’s staff, or “crew members”, as they’re evocatively called, filled shelves and painted last-minute details onto the store’s murals in preparation for tomorrow’s official opening.
“I know that it’s a great market, I think we’re a great fit for the city of Stamford,” Michael Thill, store manager, or “captain”, of the Stamford location said. “Based on the feedback I’ve heard, I know the store will be welcome.”
When Borders closed in 2011, the space stood vacant for over a year until Trader Joe’s was announced as its new tenant in 2012. Norman Lotstein, broker at Stamford’s Pyramid Realty, owns and leases the center.
Like its 374 counterparts across the country, the Stamford Trader Joe’s features artwork that’s specifically personalized to the city: images of the Old Town Hall and references to Metro North tickets adorn the walls. This is all part of the “neighborhood store” atmosphere that the chain, which started in California in 1958, conveys to its shoppers, Thill said.
“We don’t take ourselves seriously, we wear Hawaiian shirts, we like to have a good time at work and interact with customers,” Thill said. “We’re a unique neighborhood grocery store that celebrates good food.”