The Trader Joe's location at The Shops at Kenilworth, in Towson, officially opened Friday morning at 8 a.m. after more than a year of planning.
Customers filed into the new grocery store to the sound of bagpipes on St. Patrick's Day, and were greeted by staff members who offered them leis to match the new store's Hawaiian-inspired decor.
The California-based grocer announced that it would move from a location near downtown Towson's traffic circle to the Kenilworth Avenue spot in December 2015. The Kenilworth location is 12,500 square feet, which is 600 square feet larger than the Towson Circle location, according to store manager Connie Prigg. The former store closed for good at 9 p.m. yesterday. Trader Joe's was at the circle location for 17 years, Prigg added.
The aisles in the store are also wider in the new location, and parking is more accessible, Prigg said.
The transition between stores went smoothly, she added. The store is retaining employees from the Towson Circle location, and increased its staff by 35 percent for the new store, Prigg said. She declined to say how many people the store employs.
Patricia Panzarella, of Lutherville, was the first customer to enter the new store Friday morning. She has lived in California, where Trader Joe's is based, and said she has an affinity for the store because it offers regional and local products.
"Cold or not, I decided I'd come," she said standing outside the automatic doors of the new location before its opening. "I hope they do well. This mall has needed a transformation."
The new Trader Joe's space is part of an ongoing $20 million renovation of The Shops at Kenilworth, according to Tom Fitzpatrick, president of mall owner Greenberg Gibbons. Work on the mall started last year and is about half complete, Fitzpatrick said.
The mall is a community gem that needed polishing, Fitzpatrick said. A new entrance has been constructed near the Trader Joe's, among other exterior improvements. The inside of the mall has also been spruced up, with new paint, new lighting and new flooring.
The renovation will be complete in September, Fitzpatrick said, adding that the mall's stores are open as the work is ongoing.
In addition to the new Trader Joe's, a wine and liquor store, Kenilworth Wine & Spirits, opened in the mall last week, according to Fitzpatrick.
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, attended the Trader Joe's opening.
"I'm excited not only by the Trader Joe's opening, but also the continuing redevelopment of the Shops at Kenilworth," Marks said.