Nothing average here: Specialty grocer Trader Joe’s opens in Boise

With a devoted following nationwide, the store attracts transplants and longtime fans.

adutton@idahostatesman.comMarch 1, 2014 

The line stretched to the street when Idaho’s first Trader Joe’s store opened Friday morning.

Recently hired crew members greeted the eager shoppers with loud cheers, high-fives and colorful leis to wear as they perused the store in Downtown Boise.

The aisles weren’t overly crowded all morning, but there was a slight traffic jam around the wine. Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw wines — “two-buck chuck,” though a bottle costs $2.99 in Boise — are among the chain’s most well-known products.

Many of the shoppers who arrived before 8 a.m. said they’ve waited years for a local Trader Joe’s store.

Store Captain Scott Dudek said he met “a lot of happy customers, glad that they have their own Trader Joe’s in the neighborhood.”

Boise resident Jennifer Porkert is originally from California. She had been stocking up at stores whenever she’d make trips back to the Golden State, where Trader Joe’s is headquartered.

But there were some items she’d been missing. “It’s hard to bring back frozen foods,” she said.

For Boise’s Kristen Sherner, the shopping trip was an event 25 years in the making.

Growing up in Utah, Sherner’s family would take trips to Mexico. On the way, they always stopped at a Trader Joe’s store in Nevada to stock up on goodies. They’d hit the store on the way home, too.

On Friday morning, she rolled out of bed and walked to fill a basket with items such as porcini-mushroom and truffle-filled pasta — “not your regular grocery store fare,” she said.

Another early bird was Mika Fox, who moved to the Treasure Valley from Thousand Oaks, Calif., seven months ago. “The first thing we did was Googled ‘Trader Joe’s Idaho,’ ” she said — and they found they’d have to wait to shop there.

Fox brought her children — they were off school Friday — and a long grocery list for the Trader Joe’s reunion.

The throngs included at least one person who wasn’t sure about all the hype. April Walsh was among the first to see the store, on the suggestion of her eldest daughter. “I think it would be great for some people,” said Walsh, who is a devoted Boise Co-op customer.

Walsh likes that she can bike to the store, and she was impressed by some prices. Organic potatoes were $1 cheaper at Trader Joe’s than elsewhere, she said.

“I wonder if that’s going to bring down prices for everyone else,” she said.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey

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