The horse race is over, and Palm Beach Gardens has won the Trader Joe’s stakes.
The California-based boutique grocery chain said Monday that it has signed a lease to open its first Palm Beach County store in the PGA Plaza in Palm Beach Gardens. The Palm Beach Post reported last August that a deal was in the works.
“It’s a wonderful community, a great fit and it has a lot of foodies,” Trader Joe’s spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said of Palm Beach Gardens.
The Palm Beach Gardens store is expected to open sometime in 2014 in the shopping center, located on the southwest corner of PGA Boulevard and Prosperity Farms Road.
The store’s location will be just west of the Marshall’s, roughly in the middle of the PGA Plaza. The structure will be demolished and rebuilt into a slightly larger space to accommodate the 12,500 square foot grocery store, according to the center’s owner.
“We’re thrilled to be bringing Trader Joe’s to Palm Beach Gardens,” said Robert Jacoby, chief operating officer and principal of Menin Development Inc. of Palm Beach.
“I hear over and over from my friends and customers that the most exciting tenant we could bring to Palm Beach Gardens would be Trader Joe’s,” Jacoby said. “Fortunately, we were able to work with the people (there) to achieve that.”
People unfamiliar with the quirky California grocer might wonder what the big deal is. But customers who have shopped there love Trader Joe’s offerings from the United States and around the world. They also love the laid-back vibe, including the cedar-planked walls and Hawaiian shirts worn by employees. Appetizers, artisan cheeses and inexpensive but drinkable wines are popular items.
Trader Joe’s says the “trader” in its name reflects the company’s search for items that are good values but also are unique.
The company, based in Monrovia, Calif., has more than 390 stores in 35 states. Among the states targeted for growth: Florida.
Other cities have beseeched Trader Joe’s to open in their locale. Last year West Palm Beach’s Downtown Development Authority started a lighthearted marketing campaign to lure the grocer to the city, with the slogan: “What would I trade for Trader Joe’s?”
Mayor Jeri Muoio said she would trade the city commission. City commissioner Kimberly Mitchell offered to rename the city Trader Joe’s, Florida, for a day.
But Trader Joe’s has its own agenda. The grocer first opened in Naples and now has a store in Sarasota. It has a store in Gainesville, and on Monday announced it is opening a store in Winter Park.
Word is the grocer likes to expand into a region with multiple locations.
Trader Joe’s already is building its first South Florida store in Miami-Dade County’s Pinecrest.
Meanwhile, a Delray Beach developer planning to tear down an office building and construct a shopping center at the southeast corner of U.S.1 and Linton Boulevard has said Trader Joe’s is coming to the center. Mochizuki would not confirm that location. Other developers say Trader Joe’s has scouted Boca Raton too.
But in Palm Beach County, Trader Joe’s settled on Palm Beach Gardens first.
The city has seen robust housing growth and rising affluence in recent years.
Jacoby said Menin has had other firsts with major retailers in Palm Beach Gardens. The county’s first Whole Foods grocery store opened at Downtown at the Gardens, a shopping center built by Menin in 2005. The county’s first Yard House restaurant also opened there.