Trader Joe's opens in Sarasota today

10:34 PM, Sep 7, 2012   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida -- More than one hundred people lined up outside of Trader Joe's before the grocery chain opened its doors Friday morning.

Christian Estrada and Amy Riddell drove from Tampa to get their first spot in line at 3 a.m.

The second couple in line was Mary Clisham and her husband Pat.

"I couldn't wait. I've been counting the days," she laughed. The Clisham's say they're looking to stock up on the unsalted nuts which go for half the price of some competitors.

If you're like me and not familiar with Trader Joe's, you are probably wondering, what's all the buzz about??

Christian Estrada explains, "It's a magical land of two buck Chuck and delicious snacks and organic produce."

Two buck Chuck is Trader Joe's $2.99 wine that Estrada went on to buy by the case or two.

"It's pretty good stuff, I love it," he said.

We asked... is it really all that good?

"It's not going to blow your socks off, but for $3 wine, it's pretty good," said Estrada.

It's not just the wine people are buzzing about.

Maribeth Buskirk drove from Bradenton to pick up her favorite cheese, "I love the goat cheese gouda from Trader Joe's."

She added, "Prices are good. I love the wine selection."

We ran into Mary and Pat Clisham again as they filled their shopping cart.

"The wines, the bananas, the Cheerios, the granola, the chips that we love," said Clisham.

"Gotta get our nuts, our pistachios, that's where we're headed," Path chimed in.

Since almost everyone we spoke with raved about the prices -- and the $2.99 wine -- we asked "Store Captain" Linda Moffa how Trader Joe's is able to keep prices below some of its higher end competitors.

"We really do have buyers that travel the world and really look for good, quality products at the best price and eliminate the middle man. That's how we keep our prices low," said Moffa. 

Many of the shoppers drove from all parts of Tampa Bay to take part in opening day. As you'd imagine, they're all waiting for Trader Joe's to expand and open closer to their neighborhood, but Tampa Bay is going to have to wait.

Trader Joe's says the next store is planned in Gainesville. It opened its first Florida store in Naples earlier this year.

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