Siren: Pittsburgh’s Trader Joe’s is expanding

More space has to mean more cookie butter, right?

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Rossilynne Culgan

By this fall, Pittsburgh’s Trader Joe’s grocery store will be more than 25 percent bigger.

The reason for the expansion, Trader Joe’s spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said, is “to give our customers an even better shopping experience.”

The market, located along Penn Avenue in East Liberty, will add about 3,300 square feet, adding up to a total of 14,000 square feet.

“We’ll be open regular trading hours and hope to be completed by the end of October this year,” Mochizuki said, adding that store hours will not be affected even during construction.

Contractors are onsite doing minor demolition work, according to Lori Moran, director of operations at East Liberty Station Associates, which owns the building in which Trader Joe’s operates.

A building permit posted on the store’s door, issued as of July 11, lists the contractor or MDC Construction.

The expansion will occur within the same building, as Trader Joe’s footprint grows into what was previously the plaza’s Relax the Back store, Moran said. Exterior work will reconfigure the market’s entry and exit doors, she added.

“[Shoppers] won’t even know that it’s happening unless they walk by and look in the window,” she said about the construction.

The store, which opened about 10 years ago, is housed in a more than century-old building. The property once housed a post office and a bus garage, which were then joined into one building. When you walk into Trader Joe’s, Moran said, you’re in what used to be the post office, then as you continue to shop, you’re walking through what was once a bus garage.

“We didn’t want to tear the buildings down because they are so beautiful and of historic value,” Moran said, so construction work shored up the two buildings and combined them.

From the archive: Construction crews build Trader Joe's about 10 years ago.

From the archive: Construction crews build Trader Joe's about 10 years ago.

Courtesy of East Liberty Station Associates

Introducing a Trader Joe’s in the area was important, she said, because “people love them.”

“They were unique. People drove from all over,” Moran said. “What a cool thing to have in East Liberty, and I knew they would do well because the market is so dense.”

Trader Joe’s also operates now two other stores in the Pittsburgh region, one in the North Hills and one in the South Hills.

“It’s a wonderful community, and it’s filled with foodies,” Mochizuki said, “and we love being part of the neighborhood.”