As Glenwood resident Rick Seymour drove past the Towne Square at Turf Valley development about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, he noticed the Harris Teeter sign from Marriottsville Road and figured he'd stop by and pick up a steak and fish for dinner.
Little did he know that in about a half-hour, the Ellicott City supermarket would have a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open its doors for the very first time.
"I had no idea it was the first day, " said Seymour, who was the first person in a line that eventually overflowed through the entryway and into the parking lot.
And even though Seymour didn't know about the opening, he was glad he stopped by.
"My wife works by the one in Maple Lawn, so she used to go there. But we'll come to this one now, it's much closer."
The Ellicott City location is the North Carolina-based grocer's third supermarket in Howard County and eighth in the state. It will serve as the anchor for the new Greenberg Gibbons Corp. Towne Square at Turf Valley development, which will feature more than 108,000 square feet of retail, office space and restaurants.
"This is a neighborhood shopping center," said Brian Gibbons, a principal with Greenberg Gibbons.
For Ellicott City resident Dorothy Turner, the store's arrival was a long time coming.
"I've been waiting a year for this," she said, standing outside after checking out.
"I was very excited when I found out they were coming. I like the layout of the store, and they have good sales. They aim to please."
The 48,000-square-foot Ellicott City store, which will be open 24 hours a day and house a seven-day-a-week pharmacy, will bring approximately 126 jobs to the area, according to Harris Teeter Communications Manager Catherine Becker.
"For that we are very grateful to Harris Teeter," said Council member Courtney Watson. "We are very happy to have it here, and we think that this store is going to be a very big producer for Ellicott City."
Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO Lawrence F. Twele, who was not at the ribbon-cutting, praised the grocer and Greenberg Gibbons.
"Towne Square at Turf Valley is an important development in Howard County," Twele said in a statement. "Not only will the residents in the immediate area benefit from it, this growth will also benefit the entire county."
While many county officials and patrons were excited about the grand opening, the development has encountered opposition from local residents, who have expressed concerns about traffic flow and the height of a 60-foot entrance monument.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, who also did not attend the opening, said in a statement that Turf Valley was a perfect location for Harris Teeter.
"Harris Teeter is known for its quality foods, exceptional customer service and its community commitment. We welcome them to Ellicott City," Ulman said in a statement.
Becker said Harris Teeter's commitment to the community is what differentiates it from other grocers.
"Harris Teeter is glad to be known for its customer service," Becker said. "We empower our associates to look after the customer. We want this to be a welcoming environment."
The supermarket will feature a full-service "butchers' market," a full-service "fishermen's market," an expanded fresh-cut flower section, fresh fruit bar, sushi, salad bar, chef-prepared pastries and food to go, local and international cheeses and a sub shop.
Nine other retailers are expected to soon join Harris Teeter in Turf Valley, including Pet Valu and Sparkle Organic Cleaners this month.
Restaurants Xitomate and Facci, along with Petite Cellars & Wine Bar, nail salon Beauty Sense, hair salon Inspire, barbershop Sports Clips and yogurt shop YoLaVie, are expected to open this summer, according to the EDA.
Gibbons said the developer has signed leases with an Asian restaurant called "Red Parrot" and an original sports bar, which has not yet been named.
Gibbons estimates 90 percent of the tenants will be in by the end fo August.
"I'm very pleased with the way this has turned out," Gibbons said. "This a community shopping center, and I think it has a great feel to it."