The long-awaited Harris Teeter grocery store in the Clarksburg Village Center opened unofficially Tuesday evening with free tastings for the public.
Starting Wednesday, the official opening day, the store will offer 10 percent discounts through Nov. 28, just in time for Thanksgiving shopping.
The store is also offering turkey and all the fixings as part of its Holiday Dinner program, said Harris Teeter’s communications specialist Danna Jones, who was in town for the opening.
Based in Matthews, N.C., the chain is also planning to open a new store in Crown Farm in Gaithersburg in January 2014.
Jones said Harris Teeter mailed notices two weeks ago to households in the Clarksburg area inviting residents to the free tastings.
“It is nice to have the grocery finally open,” said Comfort Patterson, a personal banker at the new Wells Fargo bank branch that opened next door to Harris Teeter on Monday.
Patterson recently moved from Massachusetts to Clarksburg Village with her husband and two young boys, and they live within walking distance of the new store.
“I do the grocery shopping every week, but there’s always the unforeseen – there’s no milk, or the bread is out,” she said. “The family can take a walk to the store, pick up milk, and go back home.”
Patterson said she had been driving to Wegmans in Frederick and to the new Wegmans in Germantown but the trip took a big chunk out of her day.
“My Saturday was gone by the time I went out to get the groceries,” she said.
Patterson said Tuesday that she planned to stop by for the Tuesday night festivities and that she had already taken a peek inside the Harris Teeter store and liked it.
“I’m not a fan of huge stores, and this looks just right,” she said. “You can also see the aisles when you walk in, which makes it easier to see where to go.”
Drew D’Asaro, manager of the Wells Fargo branch, also said he planned to walk next door for the tastings.
“We’ve all been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this anchor store,” said D’Asaro, who previously managed a Wells Fargo branch in Rockville.
He said he expects the Clarksburg Village branch will benefit from the foot traffic going in and out of Harris Teeter.
“If it gets busy enough, I think we will need more people here,” he said about his new branch, which currently employs eight people.
Stringtown Road resident Bill Allen, meanwhile, said he’s taking a wait-and-see attitude. He said he’s fallen into a comfortable pattern buying groceries at the Giant in Germantown but that he’d “check it out.”
“It’s nice to have something closer,” said Allen, who was waiting for his wife to get a haircut at the new Hair Cuttery shop across the square from Harris Teeter on Tuesday.
The 53,000-square-foot Harris Teeter store, which employs 120 people for full and part-time jobs, is open 24 hours a day, except for its pharmacy, which is not open overnight.
Customers who aren’t wild about roaming the aisles in person can order groceries online and pick up their orders without having to get out of their cars, said Jones.
The fee is $4.95 per trip, which is waved for first-timers. Or for a flat fee of $16.95 a month, customers can order as many times as they want.
“We’ve introduced this at our newer and remodeled stores,” she said.
The new Harris Teeter store has a Starbucks café with free wifi and places to sit, and it is also offering pre-packaged dinners, sushi, a hot bar, a hot Asian bar and antipasto and pizza bars.
Customers who like trail mix will also be able to blend their own at a new trail mix bar, the only one in the Harris Teeter network. That’s because the store, which cannot sell beer and wine in its Maryland stores, has some extra space to experiment with new offerings.
“If it does well, we’d be thrilled to introduce it to other stores,” said Jones.
Harris Teeter has also incorporated conservation and energy-saving measures, including low-flow faucets in the bathrooms and doors that enclose cooled areas that in many other stores are open to the air.
There is also motion-detection lighting in the freezer cases that also save energy, she said.
Signing up for Harris Teeter’s VIC (Very Important Customer) cards entitles shoppers to discounts. A percentage of dollars spent in the pharmacy or on Harris Teeter brands can also be designated to go to a local school or school organization.
“If customers can’t find what they want, we can order anything – just find a manager and ask,” Jones said.
For a map of the Clarksburg Village shopping center, visit http://clarksburgvillagecenter.com.