The new Trader Joe’s still isn’t open. What’s going on?

The building that will house the new Trader Joe’s at Friant Road and Fresno Street is up. The store is finishing the interior.
The building that will house the new Trader Joe’s at Friant Road and Fresno Street is up. The store is finishing the interior.

The new Trader Joe’s store in northeast Fresno looks ready for customers from the outside.

The building is up at Friant Road and Fresno Street, the shopping cart corrals are in place and the handicapped parking spots are freshly painted.

But it’s not open.

Now cashiers are saying shoppers might have to wait until February to shop at the store – more details about that in a moment.

In May, when The Bee first reported plans for the store to close its Blackstone and Barstow avenues location and move north, the company said it would open in the second half of 2017. The month of August was mentioned as a potential opening time by one of the center’s owners.

They’re working pretty diligently out there.

Harold Zinkin, Commercial West Associates

The new Petco next door to Trader Joe’s in Park Crossing (the same shopping center as Sportsman’s Warehouse) started construction at the same time. It’s almost open, with a grand opening planned for Sept. 22 through Sept. 24.

The Trader Joe’s is one of the most anticipated stores to open in Fresno.

The store has loyal fans who are passionate about their cookie butter spread, premade cauliflower pizza crust and other unique favorites. North Fresno residents are eagerly awaiting the day they don’t have to drive as far.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t plan to miss a beat, closing its Blackstone location one night and reopening the next morning at the new place.

It’s a move that was met with disdain from shoppers in central Fresno upset that the store is moving farther away.

Cashiers are now telling customers the new store will open in February, though the company spokeswoman did not return messages seeking to confirm that. A manager referred questions to the spokeswoman.

There’s a chance it could open before then, noted Harold Zinkin, one of the owners of the center and whose office handles leases on the property.

There were no specific delays holding up the store and the developer handed over the building to Trader Joe’s by the deadline in its contract.

“It’s the nature of the business,” he said. “In the real estate world and retail world, you’re never really on time so it’s tough to say. Time frames get changed and stuff happens, but they’re working pretty diligently out there.”

Major construction is finished and Trader Joe’s is working on the interior of the building. A peek inside revealed an empty space with walls and ceiling still being finished and no shelves or displays installed yet.

Work also continues on the rest of the center, with several new buildings under construction. Leases are still being negotiated, so Zinkin declined to say what businesses hope to open there. However, he did say two restaurants are negotiating leases in two spaces that recently became available when Craft Beer Wine Bistro and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit closed.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough