Trader Joe's is just days away from making its Texas debut.
The long-awaited specialty grocery chain will open stores in Fort Worth and The Woodlands on Friday. The Los Angeles area-based company offers high-end groceries and specialty items at relatively inexpensive prices.
Employees, or "crew members," at the Fort Worth location continued Tuesday to prepare for Friday morning's grand opening. They hand-wrote items and prices, placed items and price tags on the shelves and even finished up murals on the walls that pay homage to the local community.
The store at at 2701 S. Hulen St., just south of the Hulen Street bridge, is the first of four that are planned for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"We love Fort Worth," said Doug Campbell, the store's "captain" -- or manager. "Already, we can tell there are a lot of foodies in the area, and we're just so thankful because they've been very welcoming."
Don't know what Trader Joe's is all about? Standard groceries are certainly available, but the store specializes in the different.
Campbell said the store carries lots of unique grocery items. He said Trader Joe's buyers travel the world to find intriguing items that he describes as "virtually works of art that you can eat" at an amazing price.
Each week, a dozen new items end up on the shelves, virtually all with the Trader Joe's name on them. Many items are organic, gluten-free and free of preservatives.
But the items do run the gamut. Perhaps its most famous item is Two Buck Chuck -- the shorthand for Charles Shaw wines, which used to cost $1.99 per bottle. The wine now costs $2.99, given the extra costs to get it from California.
"We've got seven different varieties over there," Campbell said. "It's been an award-winner for years. It's an amazing everyday dinner wine or table wine. It's just great to know you can find a value like that and it won't cost you a lot of money."
Customers who buy something they don't like are free to return it, no questions asked. Shoppers can also ask employees if they can open something up and try it before purchasing it.
Campbell said he expects a busy opening day and weekend.
"We certainly hope that we're going to fulfill the expectations for the community," he said. "We've been told we're going to provide an additional option for people to shop here, and we're really looking forward to that."
The other Trader Joe's location opening in Texas on Friday is in The Woodlands, bringing the chain to 370 stores in 33 states.
The next store in North Texas will open Sept. 7 in Plano at 2400 Preston Road.
In the first quarter of 2013, the first Dallas-area Trader Joe's will open at 2001 Greenville Ave. The second Dallas store will open in 2014 at Preston Hollow Village.
Trader Joe's will also open stores in Houston and San Antonio this year. An Austin location will open in 2014.