By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Aaaaaaaand exhale, Trader Joe’s fans.
On this damp and gray Friday morning, the wildly popular grocer opened its doors in Shrewsbury an event full of pageantry, with Caribbean music blasting, a Hawaiian-shirted steel drummer at the entrance and TJ employees forming a tunnel and placing leis around the necks of some 30 customers who lined up well before the 8a opening to get their fix.
“We’re so happy to be here,” said Fran Waldmann, of Red Bank.
Happy, she said, because now she can sleep.
“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited,” said Waldmann, who’s been shopping at Trader Joe’s for years, “and I’ve been waiting for years (for it) to come here.”
There’s been a lot of build up, indeed.
Mayor Donald Burden, clad in a Hawaiian shirt himself, heaped praise onto the borough’s latest and arguably most buzzed about business.
“A lot of anticipation,” he said, “and I think it’ll have a very positive effect on the area businesses as well, if this is any indication in the draw so far.”
Greg Glei, the “captain” at Trader Joe’s, said the line of waiting customers, the ra-ra employees bouncing through the store and general buzz associated with a new opening is nothing out of the ordinary, especially when the next closest location is a good 45 minutes away.
“A lot of people have shopped with Trader Joe’s, either on the West Coast or another area, and they get hooked to Trader Joe’s,” Glei said. “They get very excited when they hear (it’s) coming to them and they don’t have to drive any further to Westfield or somewhere else.”
Such is the case for Donna Gallagher, a nutritionist, who took one of her clients for a shopping trip this morning. She normally treks up north to Trader Joe’s, but as of today, her commute got cut by about 90 percent.
“I asked the one up in Paramus two years ago when they’re going to open here,” said Gallagher, of Oceanport. “What isn’t great about this place? Good food, low prices. It’s amazing.”
Waldmann came shopping with her friend, Amanda Lynn, of Fair Haven. The each stocked their carts with their favorites: mac ‘n cheese for Lynn, frozen pancakes for Waldmann.
But they have plenty of favorites and, while going down the list, Lynn cut herself off.
“We should work here,” she said.
“I’ve thought about it,” Waldmann said.