As everyone with access to any sort of media outlet knows, Trader Joe’s opened in Forest Acres on Friday, March 22 and as expected it was freaking MOBBED. I kept track of it through Twitter and read about a few friends’ experiences. Jennifer of Tasteful Dishing went on the opening day and wrote a post about it, if you’re interested in first day impressions and photos! I held off and was going to wait a little while longer because as people were saying online, “It’s not a pop up shop, it’ll be there for a long, long time!” But boredom and curiosity got the best of me by 7:30 Saturday night and with nothing else to do, I hopped in the car and made the seven mile drive since I had plenty of time to be patient about it all.

Surprisingly enough, the Forest Acres Police Department was still out there directing traffic within the parking lot even at that time of night the next day. I sure hope people gave them treats for their efforts. I grabbed a basket for optimal moving around ability, and moseyed on in to find it not slam-jam crowded, but more like 5:30 p.m. on a weekday at the grocery store kind of crowded. Since I’m no stranger to going to a TJ’s, I wasn’t intent on seeing EVERYTHING, but did wander up and down every aisle. There were some things I was in specific search of, and some fun surprises I found along the way like this squeeze bottle condensed milk and the coconut strip snacks.

The condensed milk will be amazing in Thai iced tea, and the coconut strips are to die for. I’m not even ashamed to say I’veĀ  eaten about half the bag since I got it. In some area of the store people were in the way of the parts of the shelves I wanted to get to so circled back around the store quite a few times. Again, patience is paramount here, and I was in no rush and just wanted to get out of the house a bit so it was no problem. The impatient, the perpetually rushed and claustrophobic among us may want to avoid it (and maybe take a chill pill while you’re at it).

It’s fun to see the different murals that they’ve painted in the store to highlight the uniqueness of our town. Of course the Gervais St. Bridge earned a spot on the walls, right under the wine. #RiverofWine, anyone? Sidestep: If you like this view AND wine, consider buying tickets to Wine On The River to benefit the West Columbia Beautification Foundation!

And last but not least, a photo of my final haul. All this was $35. The pink berry lemonade, the beer, eggs and the Clif bar were treaties for Patrick who suffered through a tooth extraction on Friday.

To those who want to explore this exciting and long-awaited addition to Columbia’s retail landscape I offer you this advice: go forth carefully, and take your patience with you. Consider going extremely early in the morning, or close to closing time (but not dickishly close, have mercy on the staff). From people that live in other cities, they say that TJ’s is constantly crowded, so while the huge initial crowds may taper off a bit, don’t expect to ever go in there and not have people be in the way. That’s just how life in a city works, ya’ll.