WINTER PARK, Fla. - A long line formed early Friday in Winter Park as people waited for hours before the grand opening of the first Trader Joe's in Central Florida.
The store, located on U.S. Highway 17-92 near the Winter Park Village, opened at 8 a.m.
Its a scene out of black Friday at the new Trader Joe's in Winter Park, but instead of walking away with TVs and DVD players, people are grabbing chips and frozen food.
The lines at Trader Joe's started hours before the store opened some customers arrived as early as 4 a.m.
"You're either committed to it or you're not and let's be honest, these people are committed," says Catherine Davey. "I have been obsessing over this for years. It's so great to have them here its such a great company, the food is so good, and the people that work here are amazing."
But not everyone knew what to expect. For Tracy O'Dell it was her first time walking into a Trader Joe's.
"I'd never even heard of it or knew the name or anything," says O' Dell.
But after talking to people in line she tells Local 6 she's glad she gave it a try.
The neighborhood grocery store says 80 percent of what they carry is under their private label brand and has nothing artificial in it.
"There's no artificial preservatives, additives, no genetically modified organisms," says the store captain Tim Weaver.
Fans of the store say it offers the quality of the store Whole Foods, but at Walmart prices.
All morning, the check-out lines were backed up to the back of the store with many people waiting in lines for 20 minutes or more before leaving.
All 150 parking spaces were filled up before the store opened and half a dozen officers have at the store to keep traffic moving on 1792. As of just before noon, the backup on 1792 goes almost to Lee Road.
But shoppers tell Local 6 they don't mind the traffic.
"Every Trader Joe's has parking issues," says Davey. They all have really small stores and parking. That's just the way it is and you plan for it."
To prepare for the increase in traffic along 17-92, the store hired three off-duty police officers to manage the crowds and direct traffic.
Local 6 spoke to Helen Branham, who arrived at 4 a.m. with her best friend to try to be the first in line.
"This is the earliest we've gotten here for an opening. I've gone to a couple," Branham said. "I've been asking, emailing, writing and calling, hoping for (a Trader Joe's) in our town."
She said she's been shopping at the store for 12 years and even plans her vacations around Trader Joe's stores.
"On my list today is olive oil, s'mores, and their seasonings because they have everything to make food taste good," she said.
Winter Park police say the store has two entrances, but to control traffic flow for opening weekend, the entrance at Morse Boulevard will serve as an entrance, while the other will be an exit.
"When they have an opening, it is chaotic at best, and we'll do our best to alleviate that chaos," Winter Park police Sgt. John Bologna said. "Friday might be a good idea to avoid that area if you can."
Police will be there from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the weekend.
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