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Early this morning, Chelsea Trader Joe's opened to much fanfare from grocery enthusiasts and energized staffers alike. The former Barnes and Noble space is bright, airy and cheerful, not to mention well laid out. ("Oooh! Wide aisles!" exclaimed one excited shopper). No mass congestion or confusion to be had (ahem, Fairway).
We wandered through the store wide-eyed, curious, and sporadically startled by the loud cheering every time someone new entered. There's something for everyone, from the foodie (a pack of red and white Belgian endives for $2.99) to the pressed-for-time New Yorker (pasta and sauce under $3 and numerous frozen packaged dinners, like chicken gorgonzola for $6.29). We marveled at the low prices of some items like cereal (the Cheerio's doppelganger Joe's O's for $1.99) and a dozen cage free eggs for $2.79.
We spent lots of time ogling the fancy hummus mixes (white bean and basil or Tuscan white bean, $3.99), the cheeses and the Jamba Juice-sounding blends (orange peach mango, $2.99). Also, the meat department has a dedicated Kosher section ($13.99 a pound for rib-eye, yummmm) and there is a coffee bar in the back (complete with a grinder). And of course pet products and household items like Trader Joe's environmentally safe laundry detergent and toilet paper get their own sections, too.
There are attempts at Forever 21-like New York themed sections, like the "Meat District" and the "Flatiron District" coffee bar, but they peter out later with names like "Chelsea Cheese" and "Bread-Way" (oh wait! Bread-Way, we get it now!). The check-out is very efficient with 25 registers and refreshingly convivial staff. (Question: Did they import these cheerful staffers in from California? Because they are mad friendly and excited, especially for 8am. Then again, we totally bought into it and were practically cheering ourselves as we picked up our little red basket to hit the shelves.)
One staffer was nice enough to give us the inside scoop on the Trader Joe's Upper West Side. The news is a bit deflating: Apparently, the store hasn't even been designed yet, so there is no projected opening date as of now. Sad to hear, but our mood spiked again upon finding out our super budget-friendly total bill: $6.75 for three yogurts, an organic peanut butter and some French beans. Who knew groceries could be so exciting?
· Chelsea Turns Out to Welcome Manhattan's Second Trader Joe's [Racked]
· Trader Joe's Chelsea Debuts Next Week [Racked]