Thursday May 22, 2014
Fans of the three buck chuck wine and bulk chocolate had reason to rejoice May 16 as South Burlington’s long anticipated Trader Joe’s opened for business with a ceremonial lei cutting. Face painting, live music, and samples helped kick off opening day as shoppers lined up to get a glimpse of the 12,800 square foot store. Fresh bouquets of flowers along with orchid plants at varying price points greeted customers at the entrance. The tall windows allowed for ample light to stream through the space; highlighting paintings of familiar Vermont landscapes. Shoppers have store crew members to thank for the artwork in addition to the chalkboard signs which change regularly to spotlight various products. Even the shelf tags are hand written.
Interior design is one way in which the store utilizes their crew member’s talents to add warmth to the shopping experience. While Store Captain Shawn Minihane could not reveal exact numbers in terms of how many employees the store has, he did indicate that 80 percent came from the community, with the other 20 percent, like himself, transferring from other stores. Minihane, who has been with the company for nine years, came from the Albany, New York store which he also helped to open. And while he enjoyed his time in that area, he’s definitely excited about being in South Burlington. “Everyone has been so friendly,” Minihane said, “whenever people see me out in my Trader Joe’s shirt, coming to or leaving work, they strike up a conversation about their favorite products.”
What can people who have never been inside a Trader Joe’s expect? A large variety of discounted items are available, more than 3,000 of which are sold under the Trader Joe’s label. Trader Joe’s purchases directly frommanufacturers - not through distributors, which allows them to sell a number of products at a discount. Along many of the shelves, customers will find one type of ketchup or one mustard instead of several different brands from which to choose. That’s because they are Trader Joe’s products. According to Minihane, 80 percent of the store’s products are under the Trader Joe’s label which means they are “free from GMOs, preservatives, and synthetic coloring.”
Trader Joe’s also stocks several Vermont items including Cabot cheese, Magic Hat and Switchback beers, as well as Citizen Cider. Minihane explained that Trader Joe’s looks to form relationships wherever they open their stores and their main aim is finding exceptional values and passing those on to the customer.
Through the store’s windows, one has a clear view of Healthy Living Market and Cafe, which is known for its commitment to local and organic products, but Minihane does not see them as competitors and in fact, thinks they will develop a good relationship.
Healthy Living owner Katy Lesser said, “We are really excited to have our new neighbor, Trader Joe’s, open. For Healthy Living this means our little neighborhood will be more of a food-centric destination and because we are very different kinds of markets, we think we’ll do well together!”
While adults scour the store for the best deals, kids have reason to be excited too. The store’s stuffed animal mascot, Charlie, hides throughout the stacks of goodies and when a child finds Charlie, they can bring him to customer service to receive a Charlie-pop (lollipop) then they get to hide him again for another child to find.
Even though Minihane hasn’t been in Vermont long, he has already been impressed with the area’s food scene. “We look forward to being part of the community,” Minihane said, “and being able to offer all this great stuff.”
Trader Joe’s is open seven days per week from 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent