Say ‘aloha’ to new Trader Joe’s in Carmel Valley’s Pacific Highlands Ranch

(Karen Billing)

The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch’s Trader Joe’s opened March 27 with lots of aloha spirit. Just before 8 a.m., a crowd of cookie butter and “Two Buck Chuck” enthusiasts had formed a line outside, armed with red shopping carts and baskets. San Diego City Council President Sherri Lightner helped snip a large lei, and Trader Joe’s crew members in Hawaiian shirts formed an enthusiastic receiving line, cheering each customer and draping a lei around their necks.

(Karen Billing)

Murals inside depict bettors and big hats at the racetrack, and Carmel Valley scenes like cyclists, hot-air balloons and beachgoers enjoying the sun and sand.

The PHR Trader Joe’s Captain Scott Walsh has been with the company for 33 years. There were 18 Trader Joe’s when he was hired; the Village store is number 441.

His crew members, “traders on the culinary seas,” trained for two weeks at various Trader Joe’s locations to be ready to go for opening day. Hours are 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

“My philosophy is, you can train people for the tasks, but you can’t train a good attitude,” he said. “We look for people who are happy, excited and love working for Trader Joe’s.”

Trader Joe’s stores range from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet. The PHR location is a bit larger, at 14,100 square feet. Unique to this location is a wine-tasting bar; Chula Vista and Temecula are the only other area stores with this feature. Walsh said he plans small tastings seven days a week.

“I think this is going to be an awesome store,” he said. Anticipation ran high and people were always peering in the windows. “We felt like celebrities and it’s been really neat to see that excitement.”