Crowds flock to opening of Trader Joe’s in Wellington

Hundreds of people flocked to Wellington on Friday for the grand opening of the first Trader Joe’s in Palm Beach County.

Shoppers lined up for the specialty neighborhood market’s private-label items and its Hawaiian-themed experience.

Boynton Beach residents Nadia Faulkner and Deb Capone said they arrived at 5:30 to be first in line for the store’s opening at 8 a.m.

They said they know Trader Joe’s from living in Chicago and are excited to have a store closer than the Tampa location they previously frequented. The Wellington store is the second South Florida location for the California-based franchise. The other area store is in Miami-Dade County.

“I love their products,” Faulkner said. “Everybody here has so much fun. The beat is just up, and everybody’s so lively and so nice. I just love it here.”

Anticipation for the store’s arrival has been mounting for weeks. Trader Joe’s has a loyal following of shoppers nationwide, and many of the first shoppers on Friday drove from all over Palm Beach County.

Capone said she likes Trader Joe’s organic products and the customer service. After tackling her shopping list, Capone came out with a cart full of bags.

She said the Wellington store was “over and above” her expectations.

“There were items I didn’t even know existed!” Capone said.

A line of more than 70 people was wrapped around the store — at 2877 S. State Road 7, in the Village Green Center off Stribling Way — when the doors opened 15 minutes early.

No red velvet ropes; instead the grand opening began with a pair of giant scissors cutting through a string of red flowers, similar to a Hawaiian lei.

Wellington Chamber of Commerce officials welcomed the store, which they said will draw more people to the village, like Faulkner and Capone, and create a windfall for other local businesses.

“I think that’s the kind of thing we’re going to start hearing is, people are coming from outside of Wellington to be here,” said Michela Perillo-Green, the chamber’s executive director.

Chamber President Dr. Randy Laurich said the specialty grocer and its 80 employees add to the “hometown feel” of Wellington.

Mango passionfruit juice and wheat-free waffles were available at the “tasting station” at the rear of the store, and fresh flowers and select produce were on display outside the front doors.

The Wellington location is the first of four Palm Beach County stores set to open this year. Other locations are expected to open in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, but so far, only the Boca Raton site is listed as a planned store on the Trader Joe’s website.

The grand opening went off almost without a hitch.

There was a minor altercation between a couple customers right after the doors opened, when a woman with two toddlers attempted to cut in front of the line of people waiting.

Trader Joe’s is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The 12,500-square-foot market in Wellington has several touches that make it unique to the village. Murals and other decorations showcase the local equestrian industry and reflect South Florida culture.

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