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Poulsbo woman camps out to be first customer at new Silverdale Trader Joe's

Heidi Newcomb and her daughter, Siri Newcomb, wait outside the new Silverdale Trader Joe
Heidi Newcomb and her daughter, Siri Newcomb, wait outside the new Silverdale Trader Joe's Thursday evening. In order to be the first customers through the doors, Heidi Newcomb and her nephew, Geordie MacLearnsberry, spent the night outside the store.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka/staff photo

As soon as Heidi Newcomb heard Trader Joe's would be opening a store in Silverdale, she knew what she would do: camp outside to be first inside.

Newcomb, of Poulsbo, said she got hooked on the store while living in California, but the draw isn't easy to articulate. "There's just something about it — when you shop there."

The Silverdale Trader Joe's opened Friday on Mickelberry Road and to ensure that she would be first through the doors — and the first paying customer — she staked her spot the evening before. She didn't do it alone. She had support from her family.

Although she didn't pitch a tent, she brought camping chairs and set them outside the store's entrance Thursday evening. Her husband, and then later one of her daughters, kept her company before her nephew, Geordie MacLearnsberry, took his place at the chair next to her around 10 p.m. They had bright colored balloons attached to their chairs and several cars drove through the parking lot asking them if the store was open. They made posters that read, "Trader Joe's" on one side and "It's finally here" on the opposite side. They passed the time playing Scrabble and slept for a total of about two hours.

"We were both surprised at how quiet it was," Newcomb, 49, said. "I was expecting more noise like traffic and sirens."

But around 6 a.m. Friday it got louder as other eager shoppers joined the two. The Silverdale Trader Joe's is the first one established on the Olympic Peninsula. There are more than 350 of the boutique grocery stores in 29 states.

Because the aunt and nephew pair spent the night, they became familiar with the employees who were making preparations the day before as well as other residents who stopped by to check out the store.

"We saw all those people again today," Newcomb said Friday after the store opened. "It was fun to just have that transition of the store not being open to being open and to see everyone back again in the morning."

Newcomb said the atmosphere was charged with the large crowd at 8 a.m. when the store opened its doors for the very first time.

And it turned even louder as the two headed straight for the nearest cash register through a gauntlet of cheering employees and made the store's first purchase — a pack of chocolate crisps on a display right beside the register.

"It was very exciting. All the store members were screaming and cheering and giving us high-fives," said MacLearnsberry.

Making it an all-night endeavor to be first isn't something Newcomb or MacLearnsberry had done in the past. They had never done it for concert tickets or Christmas shopping or for the introduction of high-tech electronics.

"First she bought a motorcycle and now she's camping outside Trader Joe's," said her 21-year-old daughter, Siri. "She's going to buy the store out."

After the pair made their first purchase, they spent about an hour shopping, ending the morning stocked with items including mango mochi, wine, curried chicken tenders and berry pies.

Even though it was exciting to be first, Newcomb said she does not plan on camping out for any other events or openings — this was a one-time thing for her.

"It was just very fun. It was pretty satisfying and we both felt like it was worth it," she said.

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