ST. PETERSBURG — Finally. Devotees of Trader Joe's can delight in the grocery chain's long-anticipated Fourth Street store. And the rest of the population — those who don't speak in code words like "two-buck Chuck," "cookie butter" and "Joe's Os" — will find out what all the hoopla is about.
The store at 2742 Fourth St. N opens at 8 a.m. today, 16 months after Trader Joe's officials first announced it was coming.
Police will be on hand to direct traffic and make sure customers adhere to the entry and exit plan the city conceived for the masses.
Shoppers can expect many free samples but no other perks for being the first through the doors of the California-based store with both basic and unusual items, many at discounted prices.
But they will be greeted by a steel drum player, a balloon artist, long lines, heavy traffic and interior murals saluting local points of pride. Look for the Sunshine Skyway bridge, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and an image paying homage to Salvador Dalí's melting clocks, but with melting Trader Joe's wine bottles instead.
Mayor Rick Kriseman is slated to cut a Hawaiian-style lei to officially open the doors to Florida's 14th Trader Joe's.
When the chain opened its South Tampa store a year ago, employees were still directing traffic in the crowded parking lot two months later.
"We will definitely be fully staffed tomorrow," David Gardner, manager of the St. Petersburg store, said Thursday. "We will bring in additional staffers from other stores."
Under a traffic plan devised by the city, the store's Fourth Street N entrance will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Sunday, and again the following weekend.
From Fourth Street, shoppers will enter the parking lot along a one-way entrance on 28th Avenue N. They'll exit onto Fourth Street via a one-way route on 27th Avenue N.
Trader Joe's employees will direct customers to parking spots once they enter the lot.
Police will monitor traffic at both intersections, as well as at a pedestrian crossing at 27th Avenue. Officials said the city might implement more traffic calming measures if necessary.
The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Contact Katherine Snow Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @snowsmith.