The long-awaited Williamsburg Trader Joe’s (200 Kent Ave.) opened on Friday, December 10th with great fanfare. The grocery chain’s newest location was bustling with enthusiasm and excitement from both the customers and the employees.
Huge red, orange, white and silver balloons decorated the store’s entrances on the corner of Kent Ave. and North 3rd St. Inside, the store was decked out for the holidays, trimmed with garland, snow, snowflakes, and signs exclaiming “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
When entering the store on street level, customers were greeted by two tropical print-clad Trader Joe’s employees with big smiles (under masks) and friendly welcoming words. Even in masks, the joy was evident. One family actually cheered when passing through the doors with shouts of “Yay!” and “Finally!”
Trader Joe’s customers have the choice of taking an escalator or elevator down to the store, one level below ground. Upon entering on opening day, shoppers were greeted with fun and festive music, courtesy of a steel drum one-man band in one corner of the store. At one point, enthusiastic employee Brittany got her groove on to the beat of the steel drum, entertaining a small crowd of spirited shoppers.
Taking the escalator down to the store’s main level allows shoppers to slowly marvel at the artwork seen all over the store. “This artwork was done entirely by hand,” explained employee Owen. “The artist wanted to capture the Williamsburg vibe.”
The art depicts Williamsburg-inspired scenes like the Williamsburg Bridge, water towers, and community gardens. It also includes bicycles and bike lanes, a nod to the neighborhood’s affinity for bike riding. Owen said that many Trader Joe’s employees ride their bikes to work, including himself.
“99% of the Williamsburg Trader Joe’s employees live locally in New York City,” said Stephanie Mesa-Wise, the Regional Manager of Brooklyn and Manhattan Trader Joe’s locations. She went on to say that the Williamsburg location is the company’s third store in Brooklyn and also the only Trader Joe’s that has a parking lot in her region.
The parking lot is a surprising added bonus for many North Brooklyn shoppers. The underground lot has space for 40 cars and is first come first serve. Cars are able to park for one hour for free. The parking lot can be accessed on River Street behind the Trader Joe’s building, and is open during store hours 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Stephanie and her team were very happy with their opening day in Williamsburg. “We had an incredible turnout during the first hour we were open,” said Stephanie. “We held a promotion giving out reusable bags and gave out all 548 bags before the first opening hour was over.” She explained that 548 bags were given out because the Williamsburg location is store number 548.
Although this Trader Joe’s location has several special features, it also includes the same great selection of quality food, drinks, treats, and plants at affordable prices.
The Williamsburg Trader Joe’s has a huge section dedicated to fruits and vegetables. Near the produce section is a large dairy area and an area of prepared foods like burritos, sandwiches, and salads. Moving inward, shoppers will find large cases of fish, meat, and poultry, next to aisles of candy, stuffed olives, olive oil, soup and other packaged goods.
There are several aisles dedicated to beverages, including a coffee section with a machine for freshly-ground java and an aisle with several different flavored waters. The store also sells several local Williamsburg beers, including “Sun Up” from Talea and “Pulp Art” from Brooklyn Brewery.
The back of the store is home to a frozen section with fan favorites like Mandarin Orange Chicken and Cauliflower Gnocchi, a pet food section, and a long aisle of breads and baked goods.
The cheese section, something Trader Joe’s is known for, is unsurprisingly remarkable at the Williamsburg location. It has everything from small packs of “Brie Bites” to fondue kits for $5.99. One shopper was baffled at the low prices. “Burrata for $4.99!” she exclaimed excitedly.
The floral and plant section is equally impressive. It spans an entire corner near the entrance with a section dedicated to holiday wreaths and garland, a section for potted plants, and a third area for fresh flowers and arrangements, all at affordable prices.
Because it’s December, the store is offering many fun holiday additions like gift-wrapped panettone, gingerbread cookie mug holders, and cookie ornament making kits.
Like in other Trader Joe’s stores, every sign at the Williamsburg location is handmade, like the art. The Williamsburg Trader Joe’s is very well-organized and exceptionally clean. Even the restrooms, two genderless ones, are very well-maintained and surprisingly pretty with fun tropical wallpaper.
The Williamsburg Trader Joe’s is open everyday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.