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Long awaited Trader Joe's location opens in S.F.'s Hayes Valley

Trader Joe's opens new store in S.F. Hayes Valley neighborhood
Trader Joe's opens new store in S.F. Hayes Valley neighborhood 03:15

A years-long effort to open an affordable grocery store in the Hayes Valley neighborhood came to fruition on Friday.

Trader Joe's held its grand opening, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony with a crowd of eager shoppers cheering as the store's doors opened for the first time.

The location is within walking distance of hundreds of low-income families and seniors, who didn't have access to an affordable grocery store for decades.

"It's been like this for the last 50 years," Barbara Wilson, a long-time Hayes Valley resident, said in 2023. "The grocery store has been an issue since I've been here.

"These people have been here 30, 40, 50 years and never really had (an affordable grocery store) and it's time for it to change," Jim Warshell, a Hayes Valley resident, said in 2023. "We have a real equity issue. You can't have a food desert and have all these families living here."

On Friday, Warshell said it was a 13-year effort to bring Trader Joe's to Hayes Valley.

"The community has been waiting for this for such a long time," Autumn Dougherty, the captain of the Hayes Valley Trader Joe's, said. "I'm a part of this neighborhood, so I think it's definitely great that I get to be apart of giving this community what it needs."

70% of the new location's crew members live in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, according to Dougherty.

Eddie Lo, a Hayes Valley resident and chef, lives in a condominium building attached to the Trader Joe's. He moved into the building in 2020, and has been waiting for a grocery store to open below ever since.

He said the lack of accessible groceries made buying produce expensive for local residents.

"For example, all these corner stores. If you forget one tomato, you're paying $6.00 or $7.00 at these corner stores. I understand that they're competing with a big store now (but) maybe that competition is good because I think it will lower some of the (other) prices there."

Paul Tortora, who's lived in Hayes Valley for about 35 years, said he is worried about his go-to local grocery store, Nick's Super Market.

"I hope none of the businesses are adversely affected by Trader Joe's," Tortora said. "I have no doubt that it actually will, unfortunately. But it's progress. We've got a Trader Joe's now. It's a pretty big monolith, a well-liked one. So, it is probably going to affect smaller businesses."

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