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Power of persuasion opens doors

Trader Joe’s cuts the lei on first Upstate store in Colonie

Trader Joe's employees line up to greet the first customers of the new location in Colonie on Friday, Aug. 3

Trader Joe's employees line up to greet the first customers of the new location in Colonie on Friday, Aug. 3 Photo by Marcy Velte.

— In order to fight the crowds and be first in line to grab a box of his favorite pistachio cookies, Ed Davis got in line at 10 p.m. the night before the first Trader Joe’s was to open in the Capital District. He was to stand there by himself for nearly six more hours.

“We like what we get here,” said Davis just before the doors to the grocery store were to open to customers for the first time on Friday, Aug. 3. “My wife is a vegetarian and she finds stuff here she can’t get anyplace else.”

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The car of Trader Joe's enthusiast Ed Davis who lined up to be the first customer into the store at 10 o'clock the night before the Colonie store opened.

About four times a year the couple would drive to Hadley, Mass. to stock up on all of their favorite products at the closest Trader Joe’s chain two-and-a-half hours away. They would bring coolers and freezer bags in order to store enough meals for the next trip and anytime they left the state would search out the nearest Trader Joe’s store. Now, they’ll be saving time and money buying even more of their preferred produce.

“There’s a big base in the area of people who travel for Trader Joe’s and it’s convenient to now have one in the area,” said the retired Watervliet resident.

Throughout the morning, the store’s crew members dressed in purple Hawaiian shirts and pumped up the crowd while giving out free coffee and food samples. Those in line were given flower leis to wear and some arrived sporting special homemade shirts.

Bringing Trader Joe’s to the area has been a five-year labor of love for Bruce Roter and his group, “We want Trader Joe’s in the Capital District.” To grab the company’s attention, the group used more creative means other than just starting a Facebook fan page.

The group’s nearly 2,000 members wrote the company haiku poems, created Youtube videos and sent them postcards. They also made donations to local charities like the Regional Food Bank and made Trader Joe’s the beneficiaries of those donations. In return, the food bank sent cards to Trader Joe’s letting them know donations had been made in their name.

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