Trader Joe's most coveted item: Parking - FOX 13 News

Trader Joe's most coveted item: Parking

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's the kind of problem any business would love to have: an overflow of customers. That's the situation at Tampa's first Trader Joe's on West Swann Avenue.

Business is so good it's often a challenge to find a parking spot -- almost two months after the store opened.

"It's like running the gauntlet," shopper Brandon Ehrke told FOX 13.

Ehrke decided to park across the street in a lot reserved for neighboring businesses, which seems to be a pretty common occurrence, according to Lucieto Cesar, the general manager of the nearby Einstein Bros. Bagels.

Cesar says it gets pretty bad on the weekends, when his store is busy as well.

"I think if they opened up a few more parking spaces, it would be better," said Cesar.

The general manager at Xtreme Juice agreed.

"I feel like they need a three-story parking garage over there to have enough spots," offered Roy Langley.

Parking has been an issue at several new Trader Joe's locations in other parts of the country as well. FOX 13 reached out to the company and a spokesperson sent us this statement:

Trader Joe's cares about our neighbors and being part of the Tampa community. Typically, when a new store opens, traffic is higher than normal and eventually lessens. Presently on a daily basis, we have crew members to help direct the flow of traffic in our parking lot. We appreciate the community's patience with the opening of our location and we look forward to being a positive addition to the neighborhood for years to come.

Alison Mochizuki
Director, Public Relations
Trader Joe's

FOX 13 asked to see the building permit, which shows there are more than enough spots under the current city code. Catherine Coyle, manager of Tampa's Planning & Urban Design Division, confirmed that the 12,300-square-foot store only needs 49 spots and it currently has 70.

"There is an immediate problem in the neighborhood, I'm not going to deny that, but they've met all the requirements," said Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda, who represents District 6, where the new store is located.

Miranda believes the traffic will lessen as the newness of the store wears off. He says there are no plans to re-write the code and require more customer parking spaces at the store.

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