Under slow flurries and gray skies, dozens of excited Cornellians and Ithacans lined up outside Trader Joe’s Friday morning. By 7:15 a.m. — 45 minutes before the grand opening — the line stretched past adjacent Old Navy and T.J. Maxx stores.
Upon entering, customers were greeted by employees lining the entrance, cheering, ringing bells and handing out free bouquets of flowers.
Jessica Johnstone ’23, one of the first customers to enter the store, said it was “such an exciting atmosphere.” As a San Francisco native, Johnstone was especially excited to stock up on familiar favorites such as sweet potato crackers and power berries.
“I do anticipate being at Trader Joe’s more [now] because they have more of the snacks I like and that I’m used to,” Johnstone said. “I imagine shopping there almost exclusively.”
Johnstone had left her apartment at 7 a.m. that morning with her roommate.
“When I heard they were finally coming to Ithaca, we just thought it would be funny to line up for the opening,” she said. “We didn’t have any early morning classes on Fridays so we just thought we should go wait in line, and it was well worth it.”
Johnstone’s roommate, Claire DeCordova ’23, said her goal had been to be the first person in the store since she first heard it was opening in Ithaca.
“I really like the general culture of Trader Joe’s,” DeCordova said. “It’s just so positive and fun.”
DeCordova’s quintessential Trader Joe’s purchases included dark chocolate peanut butter cups and juicy mango strips. She also commended the employees’ dedication to preparing the store for the grand opening.
“It was super exciting. We got given free flowers, people were dancing,” DeCordova said. “It was really, really happy and exciting. The employees were super excited.”
By 7 p.m., although the line outside had subsided, the store was still relatively crowded with people stocking up on Trader Joe’s essentials ranging from frozen meals to fresh produce. Several frozen food items were gone two hours before closing time.
Trader Joe’s introduces new competition to the Ithaca grocery store market, where stores like Wegmans, Target and Green Star have dominated the scene for years.
DeCordova said she anticipates switching over to Trader Joe’s for more affordable shopping.
“I shopped at Wegmans beforehand, which was super expensive, and I think I’ll transition mostly to Trader Joe’s now,” DeCordova said. “I just think that Trader Joe’s has the quality without the expense.”