Ellie Reynolds, 25, of Hampden, a Community College of Baltimore County student, and her husband, Jason, 31, who works for an engineering firm, breezed through the store with one of its many free hand-held scanners. Their only hangup was getting through a self-checkout counter, but employees were quick to help them.

"Oh my gosh, I love it," Ellie Reynolds said. She said she especially liked the new store's natural and organic food section.

Nick Hyson, manager of the old and new stores, couldn't hide his excitement at the privilege of running a brand new supermarket.

"It's a good feeling," he said.


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But Hyson said leaving the old store was "a little bit sad."

Meanwhile, at the Rotunda location, shelves were looking a little bare as employees got ready to close the location. The nonperishables will spread around other Giant stores in the region, employees said.

The public bench in the hallway of the Rotunda just outside the Giant had already been removed by late afternoon.

Longtime employee Troy Glenn, who was off work, filmed shoppers with his video camera for posterity. He is transferring to the new Giant in Hamden.

"Can I come in and take a picture?" another longtime employee, Julie Moscynski, who was also off work, asked a security guard stationed at the front door of the Rotunda Giant. She, too, is transferring to the new Giant.

One of the last shoppers out the door was "50-something" Sandy Boucher, of Guilford, a founder and board member of Hope Springs, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating AIDS.

"After 26 years of shopping here, I thought I had to be here the last day," Boucher said.

Gail Long, of Oakenshawe, vice president and chief education officer for Maryland Public Television, also was one of the last shoppers.

When asked why she was shopping at the soon-to-be-closed location, Long grinned.

"Habit, I guess," she said.

Long added that she planned to check out the new location soon.

"Absolutely," she said. "I didn't know it was open yet."

Both the Hampden and Parkville stores were scheduled to open officially Friday at 6 a.m., Miller said.

The Hampden store will be open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday, and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.

The Parkville store will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Miller said.

Giant is donating $5,000 to Action in Maturity, a Hampden-based nonprofit, to shuttle area seniors to the new Giant.