You love Trader Joe’s but you hate waiting on line. This is a quandary for many Philadelphians, since long lines are almost as synonymous with this supermarket chain as happy employees and Trader Giotto’s tomato sauce. With just one location in town at 22nd & Market, a trip to Trader Joe’s sometimes requires just as much time waiting to check out as it takes to pick out your groceries. There should be some relief now, though, since the second Philadelphia Trader Joe’s location opened today on the 1300 block of Arch Street. What, you didn’t know?
Well now you know. We waltzed into the store maybe 30 minutes after it opened and found it to be a… supermarket. The offerings are the same as they are at the other location and the space feels to be about the same size. The ceilings feel a bit higher, and the aisles are maybe a bit wider. It’s also possible that the store felt more wide open because there were hardly any people shopping and hence, no lines. Even so, the checkout area still seems a bit too small, because people will certainly show up in droves once the word gets out.
The new supermarket location is the latest step forward for this property, which has come a long way in the last decade. You may or may not recall, this was a surface parking lot until 2011, when Realen Properties built the parking garage that we see today. A parking garage is obviously a step up from a surface parking lot, and while we don’t necessarily love parking garages either, such a structure absolutely makes sense at this location, near City Hall and across the street from the Convention Center. It’s remarkable that it took all these years for the building to find a commercial tenant, but now that Trader Joe’s has opened here, we imagine that both the landlords and just about everyone living east of Broad Street feel like it was worth the wait.
We’ve been wondering about a location of a second Trader Joe’s for many years, and we confess, we wouldn’t have expected 13th & Arch to be the place it would finally happen. Certainly, we thought that a store would open east of Broad, but we figured on a spot further east, further south, or both. Remember, there were rumblings of a Trader Joe’s coming to a new mixed-use building at 5th & Bainbridge, and that made all kinds of sense to us. Then the plans shifted to a Target, and now we’re not sure if or when a building will be happening at that location.
While we would have appreciated a Trader Joe’s in a more residential part of town, we can appreciate why they would look to open a second location in the heart of Center City, where there’s more density in terms of apartments and far more people working during the day. Despite the convenience for people to walk to the store, we imagine it will still increase traffic on Arch Street in a part of town that was already really tough to navigate by car. Fortunately, the parking garage upstairs should handle most of those cars, hopefully alleviating some of the traffic. We should note, the store will validate parking passes for shoppers to park upstairs for up to an hour. Depending on how checkout lines shape up, we wouldn’t be shocked to see that time frame extended somewhere down the line.