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Trader Joe’s makes its Bklyn debut - Hundreds line up for ribbon-cutting ceremony outside Court Street store

To the staccato rhythm of steel band music, Brooklyn’s first Trader Joe’s opened promptly at 9 a.m. on September 26, and a couple of hundred hungry customers – undeterred by the steady rain that had started the night before – filed into the emporium, grabbed carts or baskets and began shopping.

The store, at 130 Court Street, was ready, with shelves stocked invitingly with the retailers’ trademark goods. In addition, Trader Joe’s employees garbed in the chain’s signature Hawaiian-themed attired lined the entrance to welcome the shoppers, offer them samples and, when they made their way to the cash registers, check them out.

The mood was one of building excitement, as lined-up shoppers heard Borough President Marty Markowitz, in the sheeting rained, welcome the store and its customers before store Captain Greg Glei cut the ceremonial lei, joined by the borough president, Assemblymember Joan Millman and developer Jed Walentas.

“Aloha,” Markowitz greeted the crowd. “As borough president, I certainly want to give all of you in the Trader Joe’s family a welcome to Brooklyn. You finally made it to the big time.”

The store, he added, “Will lure Brooklyn’s discriminating shoppers who flock to stores stocking unique products at fair prices.”

Markowitz made it clear that, in his view, this first Trader Joe’s was just a beginning. “I hope I’m still carrying out my duties as borough president when you open a second Trader Joe’s,” he remarked, suggesting Mill Basin – virtually across the borough – as a good location.

Shoppers had been on line, despite the weather, since early in the morning.

The first person in line, area resident Paul Mowry, had arrived at 7:40 a.m. What drew him out so early, and in such bad weather? “I love Trader Joe’s and I’ve been really excited it’s coming to the neighborhood. The neighborhood has been a little bit shy of good food shopping, except Sahadi’s,” Mowry added.

Pamela Isaac, who was the fifth person on line, had come from Bedford-Stuyvesant to indulge her palate. “I’m excited about Trader Joe’s,” she noted. “I love Brooklyn and this gives me another reason to be excited about Brooklyn.”

Julia Nordlund, standing right behind Isaac, had come all the way from Queens – which has a Trader Joe’s – to be at the opening. “I wanted to see all the hoopla,” Nordlund, a former Flatbush resident, admitted. In addition, she said that the Queens store was smaller than the Brooklyn one, so she was hoping that the newest addition to the chain “might have things I need” not carried in Queens.

The palpable excitement was registered by Assemblymember Joan Millman, who told the group., “I’ve represented this community for more than 10 years, and I’ve never had so much interest in the opening of a store. We in Brooklyn are foodies. We are going to enjoy it very much.”

The new emporium is 14,000 square feet. It’s housed in the landmarked bank building, and the interior has been restored to its vintage beauty. Besides offering a wide range of private label products at prices often under what’s charged in standard supermarkets, Trader Joe’s offers a variety of produce, meats, dairy products and fresh breads.

The store is not only good for the palate – it’s good for the borough’s economy. Over 70 percent of the store’s employees hail from Brooklyn.

There are over 300 Trader Joe’s across the country. The retail chain is based in Monrovia, California.

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