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Trader Joe’s Opens in Clarendon

by ARLnow.com November 18, 2011 at 9:32 am 15,793 97 Comments

(Updated at 9:40 a.m.) At long last, Trader Joe’s has opened in Clarendon.

A crowd formed outside the store entrance at 1109 N. Highland Street this morning, awaiting the scheduled 8:00 opening. Following a brief “lei cutting” ceremony with County Board Vice-Chair Mary Hynes — which was held a bit early so as to not keep people waiting in the cold — shoppers flooded through the double doors and began christening the store with commerce.

‘Crew members,’ decked out in leis, the company’s signature Hawaiian shirts and — in one case — a turkey costume, enthusiastically greeted the first shoppers and began talking up the store’s wares.

“It’s never too early for cheesecake,” said one employee, who was handing out free samples. Hot cider samples, free leis and a reusable gift bag filled with treats were also handed out.

Hynes, meanwhile, used the opportunity to catch up on some shopping.

“I think it’s awesome… it’s great to have another grocery store choice,” she said. “People have been asking for a Trader Joe’s in our community for as long as I can remember.”

Trader Joe’s ‘captain’ (store manager) Perry Zettersten said employees will work hard to try to avoid the long check-out lines that plague the Trader Joe’s location in Foggy Bottom. The store has handheld “line buster” barcode scanners that crew members will be able to use to scan items while customers wait in line. Those customers will receive a receipt that they will then pay at the register. Still, Zettersten said the store’s popularity will make it hard to keep lines from forming.

“We don’t know if we can avoid it,” he said.

The Clarendon Trader Joe’s store is about 12,300 square feet and will carry approximately 2,500 items at any given time. In the U.S., the typical grocery store carries 15,000 to 60,000 items and has a median store size of 46,000 square feet, according to the Food Marketing Institute.

  • John Fontain

    My wife may literally have an O when she walks into this store.

    • Airbalac

      I may have literally had an O when I saw this article on this website.

      • Oprah Winfrey

        I just literally had an O as I was typing this!

        • Chef Boyardee

          Don’t you a worry, I’ll make a some more Os just a for you!!

          • Quoth the Raven

            We can probably do without making fun of Italians and what rednecks think their accents sound like, don’t you think?

          • Ching Chong Ding Dong

            overreact much?

          • Quoth the Raven

            Pet peeve of mine. Ethnic stereotypes aren’t particularly funny to me, I guess. Sorry.

          • John Fontain

            Quoth d Raven – And yet you slam ‘rednecks’ at the same time you say stereotyping is bad.

          • CCLLTT

            best username/response eva

          • Quoth the Raven

            But I thought stereotyping was funny! Get it?

    • Drew

      Just like that girl from logistics!

    • Swag

      O damn.

  • novasteve

    TJ’s is probably the only libby thing I like. I’ve been going to TJs since 1998. I only wish they would carry german canned soups that have meat in them.

    • CW

      They are an Aldi company so you never know.

      • novasteve

        They haven’t for the 13 years I’ve been going to TJs. I think it’s an important thing. No place that carries german soup has anything but vegetarian varities.

        • CrystalMikey

          Ever check out the German Gourmet?

        • Southeast Jerome

          I am really starting to wonder about you, novasteve.

          I used to disagree with 200% of what you say, but just now, I had this crazy thought that its all a perforamance and you like to get the board riled up.

          Well done my man. I will offer you a smoke next time I see you cursing the yuppies in Clarendon.

    • drax

      Believe it or not, Steve, some things in the world are just things, not “libby” or “conservative” things. Relax.

    • ArlingtonChick

      Is TJs lib because of its communistic lack of choice? I do love the lack of choice at the grocery store. Makes for more efficient shopping.

      (Also, Aldi and TJs are two separate companies in the States. Each is run by a different brother with different ideas. One of the brothers came over and bought TJs first, then the second one brought Aldi to the US. They are both operated by parent companies that begin with “Aldi” (Nord and Sud), but the companies are actually separate and distinct. But they both came from the same roots.)

      • drax

        Liberal is all about lack of choice after all. 😉

    • Soup Nutsy

      No soup for you. And who said anything about Hitler?

  • Hikin’ the pike

    Nice store…it was fun to be at the opening.

  • CrystalMikey

    Can’t wait to go!

  • charlie

    help, i’m stuck in the garage.

    na, congrats. very nice opening today. everyone looked gorgeous.

  • novasteve

    That Clarendon Metro looking pylon thing is pretty silly. Who is going to want to be reminded of their horrible metro commute in the store after they just got off the metro?

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      I agree.

    • bemused bystander

      You mean there isn’t a Metro elevator right there in the store?

  • CW

    Didn’t look too crazy at 8:05 when I walked by. I was expecting something like the Pinkberry opening with lines down the block for hours.

    That might be the case at 6 or 7 PM tonight though.

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      CW: I’m curious to the insight you can provide about traffic in the area, and in the garage since you are nearby. If you wouldn’t mind updating us on this, that would be great!

      I’m curious on what is going to happen on Garfield between Wilson and Clarendon (south.) I have seen it fill up from light to light sometimes during my travels through Clarendon.

      • CW

        I’m not around during weekday daytimes but this weekend should be telling. One user already pointed out a major issue which has bothered me for a long time, which is the line of site leaving the garage.

        It will probably settle down some in coming weeks, you know, the old Yog Berra “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded” routine.

        • Josh S

          I’m predicting no settling down until January at the earliest. Wrong time of the year for people to avoid the grocery store…..

  • Ben

    “2,500 items at any given time. In the U.S., the typical grocery store carries 15,000 to 60,000 items ”

    A little misleading statistic – while Trader Joe’s has significantly fewer items, they are usually on par with the same type of items. For instance – your typical grocery store has about 10~15 types of peanut butter (brands etc) – Trader Joe’s has like 2….

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      Plus they will be restocking more often than larger supermarkets. Also, they have longer loading dock hours than other tenants in the building.

  • Observant Ollie

    Not sure what the point of going to the store opening is. I guess it’s the same people who wait in lines for iphones. Now you can forever tell your grandkids that you were at the grand opening. Yay! You just can’t buy that kind of nostalgia.

    Anyway, smart move of Whole Foods to buy a prominent banner ad today. I wonder if they contacted ARLnow or vice versa. Who contacted whommmmM&Ms?

    • novasteve

      There are people who make it almost a religion to go out to get free samples of food.

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      I didn’t even notice the banner until you pointed it out. Very interesting!

    • John Fontain

      Have you ever seen a movie on the opening day? Or had a favorite music goup whose album you bought on the release day?

      When your wife gives birth to a new child, do you say, “eh, seeing the baby can wait”?

      • NoVapologist

        You really find the birth of a child and the opening of a grocery store to be comparable events?

        • John Fontain

          No. Ollie couldn’t figure out why people would go to a new store on the first day and surmised that it must be because they want bragging rights.

          You don’t hurry to see a newborn for bragging rights, you do it because it is something you are looking forward to and, therefore, you don’t want to put it off.

          Same applies to Trader Joes for many people. It’s been “coming soon” for long enough and the people want to finally check it out.

        • charlie

          a new grocery store is much more rewarding, actually.

      • Swag

        Seen one baby, seen ’em all.

  • Rick

    What — No Police in Riot Gear!

    • KARLington

      They’re gonna need riot police if the yuppies can’t get their organic off-season tomatoes, TJ’s lobster ravioli and cheap syrah in a jiffy!

    • No, but a ACPD deputy chief was there for the opening ceremony, following an invitation from Trader Joe’s.

      • sbjenson

        And our District Captain Penn. It was nice to have the Arlington Board and CHamber of Commerce come out. About 70% of our employees are local, Arlington hires!

        Great seeing everyone who made it to the opening, lots of fun continuing today and tomorrow!

        Full Discloser: I am the one handing out the Spiced Cider and Joe Joe Candy Cane cookies with dog treats on hand in the vestibule.

        FYI: I have 10 yr old twins so it’s kinda of fun to be working a TJ’s Grand Opening rather then be at home some days!!!!


  • novasteve

    Why do they charge $3.29 for 3 buck chuck? And how is it the same price for 12 years when it’s usually 2.99 in this area, and 1.99 in california?

    • Good question. We were wondering the same thing, so I asked Zettersten. He said essentially that Virginia ABC laws, which govern how wine can be imported into the state, don’t allow the store to import the wine directly, thus forcing the price higher.

      • novasteve

        Are you positive? I recall for a VERY brief time seeing hte price of 3 buck chuck being 3.29 at the Foggy Bottom store, then I went back a while later and it was back to 2.99 again. Maybe they are just trying to sneak in a price increase, you know, start out at 3.29 so people don’t think there’s been any increase if they are new to Trader Joes?

        • LP


          Foggy Bottom is DC, Clarendon is VIRGINIA – hence the Virginia ABC laws that ARLNow referenced. Pay attention!

          • novasteve

            I’ve bought chuck at baileys in the past for 2.99 I just haven’t gone there much recently since the foggy bottom one opened.

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      Is it $3.29 in this store? If so, is that the same price as Bailey’s Crossroads?

      • novasteve

        I forgot to check. I was at the Bailey’sxroads store on Tuesday and was even in the wine section, but I didn’t look for some reason.

  • Thes

    …and began christening the store with commerce…

    Nice writing; way to create a mental image…

    • CW

      I think conflating religious imagery and consumerism is particularly appropriate in this context.

  • John

    Is there a direct in-store connection to the free parking in the parking garage? Other urban Trader Joe’s have those special escalators that accommodate carts.

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      According to CW, there is. They have been installing it over the past few months.

    • sue

      Yes. It is freaky. I felt a weird deja-vu. I used to go to one in Foggy Bottom..and parking and riding up the elevators made me feel like I was in DC not Clarendon. I have lived here off and on since 1996 so it was surreal.

      • Aaron

        Wow. /mindblown

  • sue

    The garage was completely empty at 10:45 today. However, getting out of the garage on N.Garfield is dangerous as hell. The parked cars block your view to the left…a truck going 70mph hour nearly sideswiped me as I was inching out.

    I was eagerly awaiting the opening. Nice store–they also didn’t give me too hard of a time for my Whole Foods bags. However, I am just not such a big Trader fan after all. I don’t like all of the frozen/packaged crap and all of those sweets. I like my NY strip and my fish unfrozen.

    Cheap flowers, cheap booze, cheap granola will keep me coming back..but I still don’t think the dairy was cheaper than WF’s. Is it?

    • dk

      That’s how I feel, too. I cook from scratch most of the time, and also try to buy local first and organic second when I can. So TJs–and Costco for that matter–don’t do much for me.

    • CW

      Re: leaving on Garfield, welcome to my life. I’ve been meaning to actually measure out the line of sight and to the trigonometry and math on it to prove to the county that there is not sufficient time to react due to the parket cars.

      • sue

        Yes. I live at the end of Garfield. I won’t usually drive unless I am buying cases of wine like I did this morning.

        My regular way out of Clarendon is down Garfield out to 50. I am expecting to see many collisions in the near future.

        The sightline with the parked cars in front of the Thai restaurant is horrible. I had to inch out so far..and then a woman was trying to turn in waving me out..when that truck came barreling through the light. We might need traffic attendants like WF’s has parking attendants..or they may need to give up that street parking on the Circa/Thai side of the street.

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      You can thank the county for that. Garfield between Wilson and 11th is a total mess, only to be made worse by TJ. Not TJ’s fault – the street was re-designed for less volume.

      • Thes

        How was it re-designed for less volume? Did it used to be 4-lanes and now it’s 2?

        • UnlimitedCustoms

          I would use Filmore as an example. If a car is turning onto Clarendon, cars can go around and go straight. On Garfield, all cars are stuck behind turning cars.

          Looking back, Filmore used to be 4 lanes between Wilson and Clarendon.

          • drax

            Sounds safer for all the new pedestrian traffic in the area. You know, the ones not driving and not contributing to congestion.

      • charlie

        actually you can thank civic activists who think they are traffic engineers and they aren’t. Thes comes to mind easily.

        • Josh S

          Yes because they rented steam rollers and asphalt spreaders and did it in the middle of the night…..

    • LuvDusty

      re: exiting the garage and sight lines—the Garfield St. garage under Station Square Condos (right near where ‘3’ restaurant is), has large mirrors installed on each side, which help tremendously to see pedestrians as well as road traffic.

      not sure if they have those installed yet at the garage you mentioned, but if not, it could help a great deal and it’s a relatively simple/inexpensive solution.

      • CW

        That garage has clearer line of sight. The cars park right up to within about 5 feet on the left of the Clarendon Center garage, and the building is set back about 15 feet from the road. They wouldn’t help.

    • drax

      A truck going 70 is the problem.

      • Josh S

        You and I both know that truck wasn’t going anywhere close to 70. Sue knows it, too, but writing – “a truck going 35 almost sideswiped me” doesn’t have nearly the same ooomph, does it?

        • Freud

          Talking to yourself again?

  • sue

    Beer selection sucks!!! Much smaller than other TJS. Also- it is directly behind a large post.

    • Swag

      The Great Wall of Beer is only a couple miles away.


      • CrystalMikey


    • GreaterClarendon

      Sad to hear about poor beer selection, but may make sense if most shoppers are walking to the store – only so much you can carry at once.

    • BeerSnob

      As long as they stock Mickey’s Big Mouths, we’re good.

  • James

    I live in the apartments above it…never have to leave the building again for groceries. =)

    • John

      Lucky you. It’s 3/4 mi walk or drive for me.

      • novasteve

        Are you seriously going to drive 3/4 of a mile? I would easily do 2 miles walking to avoid parking issues.

        • Swag

          Depends on how much you’re buying. Walking is nice–walking with 6 bags of groceries isn’t.

      • UnlimitedCustoms

        I’d walk. The drive will probably take longer.

      • charlie

        38B the best way to get to and out of clarendon.

      • drax

        steve and unlimitedcustoms are now mamby-pamby, walking liberals!

  • j

    Seems like you people don’t get out much. It’s a grocery store for crying out loud.

  • I against I

    hahaha, you know! It’s the Arlnow crew! They are too nervous to get out, too many brown people standing infront of Food Star for them to handle.

  • Clarendon Cruiser

    I might just have to put the house slippers on an saunter over to this place today, a mere half block

    and it’s still not to late to put on the flip flops

  • KymEsco

    great to see the vast majority of shoppers using shopping baskets instead of carts. it’s a run in for a few things kinda place. negotiating the packed aisles w/ a cart can’t be fun.

  • Swag

    So, my first Trader Joes experience resulted in a resounding “meh”.

    1) Store seemed more crowded with employees than customers. One of the major downsides of being small and having so few facings on products is that they have to constantly restock items and get in the way of customers.

    2) There was nobody in line when I went to check out, however the woman standing there doing parking validation made me walk through their roped off line thing, which essentially meant walking across the store and back. The reason given was that other customers would see me doing that and follow me. Pretty damn stupid, but managers always have their employees doing stupid sh*t on the first day, so I don’t really hold it against her. A week from now they won’t care if you skip the gauntlet when there’s nobody else in line.

    3) I didn’t buy much, but what I did buy was relatively cheap.

    4) Beer selection sucks.

    • CW

      Agreed. Not busy at all. The garage neither. I think the amount of excitement over this place we see on ARLnow has not been representative of the population in general.

  • charlie

    yeah TJ’s… won’t have to export my money anymore.

    I shopped at Whole Foods today because they did the banner headline and I’d hate to see them go out of business due to the competition of TJ’s.

    I will support both stores in hopes of keeping them both open.

  • Rachel

    I visited the TJ’s this weekend and overall I am just happy that I don’t have to drive to Bailey’s Xroads. The wine is the same price at $3.29. The store did seem a bit empty towards the front, though I think they are still trying to decide how much floor space to dedicate to a line. I have visited TJs in NYC and the line style is similar to what is typical in NYC and centered around customers who only shop with a handbasket and not a large cart.

    My only complaint wasn’t actually something inside the store. On the corner of 11th and N. Highland are three new benches. Over the weekend I consistently saw the TJ’s crew taking their breaks and eating on those benches. That is fine, but there is a public trashcan there and it was overflowing with their lunch containers. TJs should do a better job of telling there employees to throw it away inside.

    • ARL woker ALX res

      TJ’s would have to pay for the trash the workers throw away in the store. So why would it behoove them to tell their employes to toss their trash in the store? And how do you know it was just their trash, it is a public trash can.

  • LuvDusty

    Well, it’s now been open 1 month and I don’t see any major traffic issues as folks were predicting.

    From the dozen or so times I’ve been to it (yes, walking as I live 2 blks away), i’ve found that a majority of the customers seem to be walking out w/bags in arms to their respective homes. Clearly I can’t follow every person to see if they are going to a car or to their homes, but most seem to be turning right out the door, away from the parking garage and out towars the Clarendon metro stop or around the corner down Clarendon blvd.

    Would be curious to see some stats from TJs (if they keep that sort of info) on how many customers are using the parking lot (I guess # of parking validations vs. total customers?) and how many are pedestrians.

    I’ve found the store to be clean, neat, easy to get around and pretty convenient. I still go to Whole Foods for a larger shopping event, but it’s great to have the TJs there for a small staple purchase (milk, eggs, etc…) or for an occasional goody or two you can’t get elsewhere! (Pfeffernusse cookies! YUM!)


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