SPOKANE -- Trader Joe's, the nationwide chain that's created a legion of food-loving fans, announced it will open its first Spokane store next year -- the first in Eastern Washington.
The Southern California-based company confirmed Wednesday it will lease a 12,000-square-foot building on Spokane's South Hill.
That building will be built at the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center, at 29th Avenue and Regal Street, next to the existing Hogan's Restaurant.
The specialty grocery chain has considered opening a Spokane store for several years.
Earlier this year it started looking seriously at Spokane's South Hill, said Jeff Ottmar, who works for a Spokane company that represented property owner Lincoln Heights Center.
Alison Mochizuki, director of national public relations for Trader Joe's, said the company will announce later when it will open and how many workers it plans to hire.
She said Trader Joe's doesn't disclose how it selects its store sites.
"However, we think Spokane is a great area for our store because there are a lot of foodies in this wonderful neighborhood," she said.
Fans of Trader Joe's have been clamoring for a Spokane store for more than a year. A Facebook page called Trader Joe's Spokane, established to try to lure the chain here, has grown from a few thousand fans to more than 11,000 in recent months.
The announcement left many Tri-Citians envious -- and a little discouraged.
"Still too far away! Used to live 5 minutes from the Bellevue one, miss it terribly," was James Fick's comment on the Herald's Facebook site Friday.
Jaylyn Acree agreed. "NOT close enough!!" she posted.
Lisa Sammons-Frye has been waging her own campaign to get the retailer to come to town. She created a Facebook page called "I Want a Trader Joe's in the Tri-Cities WA."
It has 1,162 members and some still were hopeful Friday that the news about the Spokane outlet means it's just a matter of time before the Tri-Cities gets its own.
KariAnne Deines Clark posted: "Hey Trader Joe's, check out the real estate at 10th & Columbia Ctr Blvd in Kennewick. Let's get a move on it!"
The company has about 350 stores nationwide.