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Saturday
Jul072018

Long Awaited Trader Joe’s To Open Friday, July 20

Article and photos by Merle Minda

There she sits: Not deterred by street construction and backed up traffic, Trader Joe’s is almost ready to open in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, July 20th. A pre-opening visit confirms that this will be a big and beautiful store, with a full-length wall of windows facing Washington Avenue that brings in astounding light, wide aisles just begging for browsing customers, and an energized and excited staff.

The new Trader Joe's doesn't seem to mind sharing the neighborhood woes of construction and traffic.

Trader Joe's store manager Melissa Laufer says, "We are thrilled to be here!"Everything is focused on the all-important customer, according to manager of the new store Melissa Laufer. Melissa is a resident of the Twin Cities, having moved here 11 years ago to open Trader Joe’s first Minnesota store in St. Louis Park. Now there are eight Twin Cities stores (and another in Rochester); this new store in downtown Minneapolis will be the ninth.

Located smack on the intersection of Washington and Chicago Avenues, the store is easy to walk, bike or drive to, with a good-sized parking lot - entrance on Chicago. Those cute red carts are already in place just waiting to be used. In addition to a 12,000 square foot grocery, Trader Joe’s also has an attached store for wine, beer and spirits, carrying many of their own beloved brands such as Wine Flower and Mangocini wines, Drive Thru Red Ale and Grand Reserve Chardonnay. And yes, the wine shop will be carrying the famous “two-buck Chuck”, Charles Shaw wines, albeit with a slightly increased price of $2.99.

“We see ourselves as being part of the neighborhood,” says Melissa. “We are so excited to be here and ready to create shopping adventures for our customers.” Walls of the store are dotted with original paintings depicting neighborhood spots – the Stone Arch Bridge, the Viking's Stadium and the Hennepin Avenue Bridge. Melissa was active in choosing these iconic subjects and it is a nice statement of Trader Joe’s commitment to becoming part of this neighborhood.

Original paintings of neighborhood landmarks dot the walls. 

The new Trader Joe’s is just a few blocks from the Stadium in one direction and the same distance from Guthrie Theater in the other.

Most of us are aware that Trader Joe’s has its own approach to the grocery store experience. 80% of their products are private label, manufactured by selected vendors who adhere to their perspective of no GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), no artificial preservatives and lots of organic products. Yet even with these restrictions, their prices fall below standard supermarket entries. My eyes lit on a 32-ounce box of carrot-ginger soup, just $2.99.

Those famous roses and other fresh flowers will be delivered daily, as will all the breads and bakery items. It’s quite an operation – the meat, poultry and fish shelving is empty now, as is the dairy section, waiting to be filled for those first customers. Trader Joe’s is also known for its fresh fruit, with those stanchions also now at the ready. You can prep by checking out www.traderjoes.com.

Unpacking and stocking shelves is well underway.

Interestingly, there is also a special spot for product and food demonstrations, which will happen every day, all day. Opening hours are 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM daily, with Sunday Wine Shop hours of 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM. The first hour of parking is free with Trader Joe’s validation.

Recently, Chowhound came out with a list of 50 favorite Trader Joe’s items – many of which are new to me and I can’t wait to grab for myself, like Gochujang Almonds, Mango & Sticky Rice Spring Rolls, Midnite Moo Chocolate Syrup, Green Dragon Sauce, Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels and Broccoli Slaw or Kohlrabi Salad. The store and its exciting product array are frankly, so tempting, that one thinks Whole Foods and Lunds & Byerlys will be on their competitive tippy-toes.

Most of our neighborhood folks will be checking out the new store for themselves, so at 8 AM on the morning of the 20th, grab your little red cart and go!

Trader Joe's red carts already lined up for shoppers.

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About Merle Minda

Journalist and free-lance writer Merle Minda writes about travel, business, people profiles and other subjects for a number of national and regional publications, including Delta SKY, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Business, Star Tribune, Twin Cities Statement, Minnesota Monthly, and now Mill City Times. She can be reached at mminda@earthlink.net or TravelOverEasy.com on the web.

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