Photo by Sasha Vasilyuk

Even before the new Trader Joe’s on University Avenue officially opened this morning, a large crowd gathered outside.

“We had about 80 people at the door,” said Mary Ann Gallagher, the “captain” of the store. “They were super excited. We had people waiting since 7. They were taking pictures. It was like a party out there.”

Business has been steady since then, she said.

Sasha Vasilyuk, co-founder of Sandbox Suites, a shared working space on nearby Addison Street, was one of those who went early to the new store.

“I’m very excited about it because it is a block from our office,” said Vasilyuk. “Not only am I excited, but everyone in my office is too. From the buzz in the store it sounds like people have been eagerly awaiting it.”

Vasilyuk often has to buy milk or cream for the office and until now the nearest market was Fred’s. It opens at 11 am, hours after Sandbox Suites opens its doors. The new Trader Joe’s will be open from 8 am to 10 pm.

The new store has 94 employees, with the bulk of them coming from Berkeley, Oakland, and Albany, said Gallagher. Since there is no employee parking, the new workers are taking public transportation or are riding their bikes. Gallagher lives in Oakland and is taking BART to work, she said.

There are only 48 parking spaces at the store, and neighbors are worried that Trader Joe’s customers will make an already tight parking situation even more difficult. Berkeley is designating some areas around the store as residential parking only.

On opening day, the emphasis seemed to be on what Trader Joe’s will offer the neighborhood.

“Everything is so new and clean and fresh,” said Gallagher. “It’s great.”

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...