PORTLAND — “Two Buck Chuck,” spiced dried fruit, frozen orange chicken, Trader Joe’s Joe – it’s all coming. This week.
Trader Joe’s is set to open its first Maine outpost Friday, following months of anticipation from the discount grocery store’s local fans.
“There have been people outside, people looking in the windows and waving,” said Tracy Acciola, “captain” of the Portland store. “We feel fortunate to be here and a part of it.”
The California-based grocery chain has moved into the former Wild Oats space on Marginal Way and this week employees are putting the final touches on the store and going through training in preparation for Friday’s opening.
Acciola said about 85 percent of the staff is local and the rest – including herself – moved here because they wanted to work and live in Portland.
“There are a lot of foodies here,” she said. And while the newest Trader Joe’s resembles the company’s other locations, the Portland store is designed to capture the essence of Portland and the state of Maine, she said.
“It’s one of our larger stores,” she added.
There are murals throughout the space created by employees and depicting Casco Bay sites such as Bug Light in South Portland. The store is also decorated with buoys and lobster traps.
Acciola said a large mural at the back of the store has a “Portland Then and Now” theme, which includes landmarks. It also has a prediction.
“It says, ‘Trader Joe’s coming in 70 years,’ with an arrow,” she said.
About 80 percent of the merchandise at the Portland store will be Trader Joe’s brand, company spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said. She said shoppers will find the offerings at the store similar to other Trader Joe’s locations.
Employee shirts, reusable shopping bags and other items will carry Trader Joe’s Hawaiian theme. And the Portland store will sell beer and wine.
Trader Joe’s has two dozen stores in New England, and 340 throughout the nation. The company opened its first grocery store in 1967 in Pasadena, Calif.
The company is known for its inexpensive, private-label products and puts out a popular monthly newsletter – the “Fearless Flyer” – which highlights wines and other new products.
Perhaps its most famous product is inexpensive Charles Shaw wine, a.k.a “Two Buck Chuck.” It comes in several varietals and is sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s. It also is sometimes $3 a bottle.
Trader Joe’s opens Friday, Oct. 29 at 8 a.m. There will be a lei cutting, live music and other fun stuff to celebrate the occasion, according to Acciola.
Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Trader Joe’s sign lures people at the intersection of Marginal Way and Preble Street in Portland, where the market will open on Friday, Oct. 29.
A hand-written sign at the front door tells anxious customers they have to wait until Friday, Oct. 29, to get into Trader Joe’s in Portland.