5 things you need to know about Trader Joe's

Orlando Sentinel (FL) |

June 27--Are you ready to get lei'd in Winter Park on Friday? It is a Trader's Joe tradition to welcome the first 300 guests island-style on opening day. If it's your first time, don't be nervous: Here are five things you need to know about what is arguably the most anticipated food-store opening in Central Florida.

Hours: The store at 131 N. Orlando Ave., the eighth in Florida, will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, but on Friday fans are expected to gather before dawn. When the first Tampa store opened in March, more than 100 customers were waiting outside.

Parking: There are about 150 spaces in the shopping plaza's parking lot. Overflow parking is available on side streets along Morse Boulevard. Off-duty Winter Park police officers have been hired to help with traffic and the expected crowd.

Labels: Store brands at the California-based grocer have achieved rock-star status. Speculoos Cookie Butter is a guilty pleasure, for example, and the sultry-savory rosemary Marcona almonds are among Trader Joe's Top 25 customer favorites. Shoppers can try any product before buying, just ask a store employee to open the package. And on opening day expect samples throughout the store.

Prices: Trader Joe's is gourmet without the gourmet price tags. Dried herbs, for example, average $1.99 a bottle and can cost more than twice that in mainstream supermarkets. Other bargains to look for: Cheeses, frozen foods, snacks and eggs. However, you are likely to find better deals on packaged meats in mainstream markets.

Size: Think small. Trader Joe's reputation looms large, but this store is just 12,500 square feet, compared to the average Publix, which is 47,000 square feet.

hmcpherson@tribune.com

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