Schenectady County

Shoppers pack new store at opening

Parking spaces and shopping carts were in short supply Sunday morning during the grand opening of th

Parking spaces and shopping carts were in short supply Sunday morning during the grand opening of the new ShopRite supermarket.

Shoppers hovered around the parking lot, pouncing on open spaces and free carts like animals waiting for prey.

Police officers directed traffic in the parking lot. Shoppers even parked across Nott Street at the U.S. Post Office and walked over to the new anchor of what was formerly called St. James Square. Traffic backed up onto Balltown Road.

“It was very crazy in there. It was not really organized as far as cashing out,” said AnnaMaria Logrippo of Albany after her shopping trip. “We came out for the sales but we didn’t think it would be that bad.”

Store officials directed Margaret Osborne of Schenectady and her sister Lori Brown to the express lane even though they had more than the maximum number of items.

“Except for the lines, everything was great,” Osborne said.

Because of the craziness, shoppers executed military-style surgical strikes — going in for deals like $4.88-a-pound beef tenderloin and 99-cent bags of potatoes — and coming back out.

“I look forward to coming back when it’s not so busy so you can do a little more browsing,” Osborne said.

Shoppers seemed impressed with the layout of the facility, which is ShopRite’s 30th store and received $12 million of upgrades to the building and parking lot.

“It’s a beautiful store,” said Janice Stewart of Schenectady. “It kind of reminds me of a Wegmans.”

“Once it calms down, it will be nice to have a store like this around,” she added.

The grand opening attracted shoppers from beyond Schenectady County, including Bob Lipco of Grafton.

“They do have a lot of stuff I don’t see around the region — Kosher items and Middle Eastern items,” he said. “It’s lunacy in there but you do save some money there — that’s for sure.”

About 50 to 60 people were lined up waiting for the store to open at 7 a.m., according to Tom Urtz, vice president of human resources and community affairs.

“We actually opened a little bit early because we didn’t want them out in the rain,” he said.

One person even ran into the store because he wanted to be the first person to check out. Urtz said he knew the community was going to be very enthusiastic because of all the interest shown ahead of the opening but the turnout exceeded his expectations. People are very interested in the store’s health and wellness center with its in-store retail dietitian and the online shopping service called ShopRite From Home.

Store officials have also touted that they have one of the largest offerings of gluten-free products in the Capital Region, locally grown and organic fruits and vegetables, a deli with Black Bear and Boar’s Head brands, two certified Culinary Institute of America chefs on staff at its grill, and an extensive meat counter, on-site fishery and full-service bakery. ShopRite brought 350 jobs to the region.

Store officials held a brief grand opening ceremony, where they presented oversized checks of $10,000 to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and $1,000 to the town of Niskayuna to fund youth programs.

Fifteen-year-old Niskayuna High School student Rachel Wurth was also recognized as “High School Athlete of the Month.” Wurth is a state-ranked swimmer who recently came in first in the 100-meter backstroke and the 200 medley relay.

“I love my sport and I’ve been working really hard on it. It means a lot to me,” she said.

Niskayuna Town Board member Denise Murphy McGraw also described the frenzied atmosphere. “It’s like people have never seen food before,” she said.

She added that it was nice to have ShopRite in the area — not only as a business but a great community partner.

“I think people feel good that we didn’t just fill this space with any kind of business,” she said.

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