Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter
Trader Joe's on South Hulen Street in Fort Worth may be too popular for its own parking lot. Nearby businesses are not thrilled with the specialty grocery store's popularity.
More than two weeks after its opening, Trader Joe's and its parking lot still jam-packed on a daily basis.
Neighboring lots and businesses have installed signs warning Trader Joe's customers not to park there.
"Every time I come over here, I find it difficult to find a place to park," Mary Rayfield said.
Rayfield and a group of friends were eating lunch at Brix Pizzeria and Wine Bar in the Stonegate Crossing shopping center on Monday and planned to go to Trader Joe's after their meal. The group says it understands why the California-based grocery store is so popular but also said customers should respect the neighboring businesses.
"I don't think it's fair," Julie Berman said. "I think these businesses have a business to run and they want their clients to be able to park in front of their business and not have to fight with Trader Joe's customers."
The Stonegate Nursing Center, which is located behind Trader Joe's, has spent hundreds of dollars on signs around its property warning the store's customers not to park there.
Sue Hayes, executive director, said she plans on extending a fence and adding speed bumps in her lot to keep her residents safe. She said she simply wants people to not park in emergency access ways, saying Trader Joe's is trying to be a good neighbor and often brings food and flowers over for her clients.
At Brix Pizzeria, employees said things have improved but said some of their customers still have trouble at times finding parking.
"Our loyal fan base is pretty loyal, but if there's no place to park, I don't think they're going to walk from home, so parking for them has been pretty paramount," manager Mischa Astroff said.
Trader Joe's expected to be busy in its first few weeks in the Metroplex, even hiring off-duty Fort Worth police officers to direct traffic at times.
"Trader Joe's cares about our neighbors and being part of the Fort Worth community," said Alison Mochizuki, Trader Joe's spokeswoman. "Typically, when a new store opens, traffic is higher than normal and eventually lessens. Presently, we have crew members helping to direct the flow of traffic in our parking lot. We appreciate the community's patience with our new location, and we look forward to being a positive addition to the neighborhood for years to come."
Most neighboring businesses told NBC 5 they expect to have increased traffic in their stores because of Trader Joe's and want to be good neighbors. But they said they also have some frustration with Trader Joe's customers who park in their spaces.
"This is our parking lot," Astroff said. "Trader Joe's has its own. We just want to keep things fair."
Astroff and other business employees and owners said they expect things to improve as the novelty of the store wears off and others open across the Metroplex.
However, even Trader Joe's customers say the parking mess is something they don't want to deal with.
"I'm not surprised that it's packed because it's such a great place," Joy Rosen said. "But if the parking continues like this, I'm not going to make the trip. It's not going to be worth it."
Three more Trader Joe's stores are expected to open on the eastern side of the Metroplex over the next two years.