Trader Joe's fanatics, your wish has been granted: The ultra-popular specialty grocer will open its first Colorado Springs store in 2015.

The California-based chain has signed a lease to open a 12,500-square-foot grocery at the University Village Colorado shopping center, northwest of Nevada Avenue and Garden of the Gods Road, a Trader Joe's spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"I can tell you this community is truly wonderful and has a lot of 'foodies' and we're really excited about being part of it," said Alison Mochizuki, Trader Joe's public relations director.

An opening date hasn't been determined, she said.

Colorado residents watched for years as Trader Joe's opened stores around the country, but never here. Now, the chain has arrived almost with a sense of urgency; it opened three stores Feb. 14 in Denver, Greenwood Village and Boulder, and plans to open a second Denver location and one in Fort Collins later this year.

OUR REVIEW: Trader Joe's stores in Denver area worth the drive.

Previously, the company said it wouldn't open a store in Colorado Springs for several years. On Monday, Mochizuki said it would be at least 2016 before one came to town. But she received new information about the company's plans Tuesday afternoon.

The Colorado Springs store will be similar to others in the chain, with about 80 percent of its offerings under its private label, Mochizuki said. However, the store will not sell Trader Joe's popular Charles Shaw wines, commonly known as "Two-Buck Chuck." Under Colorado law, grocery chains are allowed only one location for liquor sales, and that honor has gone to the existing Denver store.

The size of the store also will be about the same as other locations, which range from about 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, Mochizuki said. The store will operate out of a free-standing building at University Village.

Trader Joe's has about 4,000 items per store, a fraction of what's found in much larger groceries such as Safeway or King Soopers. But the chain has become popular for its unique lines of gourmet, vegetarian, organic and frozen foods that aren't found in other stores.

University Village Colorado, a regional shopping center in north central Colorado Springs, is anchored by a Costco Wholesale Club, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, and Kohl's and Stein Mart department stores. It's also home to numerous restaurants and smaller retailers.

Jay Carlson, a broker with Front Range Commercial in Colorado Springs, said University Village - easily reachable by higher-income neighborhoods on the city's northwest, northeast and southwest sides - was a logical location for Trader Joe's.

"It's accessible to everyone," Carlson said. "They've already got retailers that serve upper-income folks. I think they'll do well there."

Mochizuki said she couldn't comment on whether Trader Joe's will have more stores in the Springs. Carlson said he'd expect the retailer to see how its first store performs before considering another location.


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