Trader Joe's: A Sneak Peek and Ten Tips From Captain Jodi
It's happening. Trader Joe's is opening its first Miami-Dade store this Friday, October 18, at 8 a.m., complete with a ceremonial lei-cutting, music, and giveaways.
All photos by Laine Doss Captain Jodi gives us shopping tips.
But what does the store look like and what's the fuss all about? When Short Order was asked if we wanted to get a little tour by captain Jodi McCullough, we jumped on the opportunity. Captain, by the way, is Trader Joe-speak for store manager.
We arrived a few minutes early for our walk-through and observed crew members (employees to us mortals) busy prepping for the opening, some posing as shoppers, while others worked the register. Other crew members were busy stocking produce. The rest of the store, including non-perishables and frozen items was completely finished and ready to go, with the exception of fresh flowers.
A cartoon monkey invites you to check out some orchids for your home, and a bamboo tiki-bar of sorts displays all sorts of pumpkin-flavored delights. The aisles are on an angle, so when you walk into the store, you can survey the entire place. It's these little things that make you realize that everything has been carefully thought out. We also noticed something else. At least a dozen would-be shoppers trying to get in. "Are you sure there's no soft-opening?" a savvy Trader Joe fan asked. "No. Sorry. We'll open in Friday at 8 a.m. Be sure to come back" was her answer.
Captain Jodi arrived, wearing a red Hawaiian shirt and greeting us with a hug. Yes, a hug. We never got a hug from a Publix manager (though we were asked to stop taking pictures once). Still cheery after an entire day of media tours and crew training, she breezed down the aisles with the energy of a bobcat on espresso, pointing out the murals painted on the walls, each depicting a different scene from Miami life. "I love paddle boarding, so I wanted to incorporate them into the Matheson Hammock mural."
Other murals included art deco hotels on Ocean Drive, Pinecrest Gardens, and lifeguard towers on the beach. The entire back wall pays tribute to the University of Miami, with cows portraying football players and chickens as cheerleaders. The store's sampling bar where one can grab a snack, a cup of coffee, or a fresh juice for free, is renamed Canes Galley. "For opening day, we're serving Mandarin orange chicken and our green plant juice to match the school's colors."
We asked captain Jodi, who has been with TJ's for five years, why there's so much buzz about this store. "Besides the fact that the prices are so good and the quality of the products are amazing, we really strive to create a fun shopping experience." When we asked her what it's like to work here, with all the bells and colorful shirts, she replied, "I love to come here every day. It's about the experience. It's about the internal. We get to know our customers and have a dialogue with them. If I felt like I helped someone, that just made my day."