Tonawanda News — Lisa Kahler of the Town of Tonawanda visited the store before 11 a.m. with a specific goal: To find Trader Joe’s-brand almond butter.
“I was on a mission, because that almond butter is impossible to get. It really, really is,” she said. “We’ve gone to Rochester for it. I was in a Trader Joe’s in Napa a couple weeks ago. They didn’t have it.
“I took a chance. I figured it would be well stocked up for the grand opening ... and it was. I got three jars.”
Kahler said that the store was very crowded and difficult to navigate, but well-stocked. Traffic outside was congested, but well-managed, she said.
“The boulevard itself was fine. In and out of the parking lot was very well-controlled. They had several police officers and employees directing traffic, so it was very well controlled.”
By midafternoon, a steady line of shoppers continued to stream into the building in a nearly festival-like tenor, as employees greeted customers and handed out free reusable grocery bags, cookies and sweets to the hundreds packed inside — a scene that most said they expected.
Jackie Clonan, of Cheektowaga, who left the store with two bags of food, said she has travelled to a Rochester Trader Joe’s about six months ago, with the draw of a hardy organic selection spurring her return on Friday in Amherst despite a long wait in line.
“I spent about 20 minutes looking around and another 20 minutes in line,” she said. “But I expected it. Whenever something like Trader Joe’s comes to town it lifts my spirits.”
Foster said she hopes the opening of Trader Joe’s will be a catalyst for other popular businesses to take a second look at Western New York.
“I think now that Trader Joe’s is here, I would bet ... I have a feeling we’ve already had other corporations look at us. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we don’t have another one that was on people’s top lists coming to the area soon,” she said. “That’s what happens. Once you have one of these destination location places, you might up having others take a closer look. ... I think a lot of places will start to look again at our area.
“Take another look, you’ll like what you see. There’s more here than meets the eye ... or the statistics.”