CRANBERRY TWP — By 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, a new grocery store in the township already had a line of about 700 people eagerly waiting.
Fresh Thyme, a health food store that celebrated its grand opening Wednesday in Cranberry Township, had served somewhere between 4,000 to 5,000 customers by 2 p.m., said Floyd Prescott, store director.
“I got here at 4 a.m. and there were already about 50 people here,” Prescott said. “The line stretched from the front door past Lowe's.”
The store in the Cranberry Commons plaza on Route 228 contributed to its own popularity by giving out “about 250 bags of free groceries” to the day's first customers.
“We do that every time we open a store, but we had probably three times that many people out here today,” Prescott said. “It's been a pretty steady stream. First couple of hours, you couldn't even move in this place. It was wall-to-wall.”
Even people who don't typically enjoy grocery shopping appeared to be excited to try the new store, which Prescott said is a company goal.
“We want people excited about grocery shopping,” he said.
Fresh Thyme was originally expected to open in January, but pushed the date to February to ensure an adequate staffing.
“Rather than scramble around and push to open, we extended the date by 30 days,” Prescott said.
“It gave us more time to hire, more time to train. Now we have people (who) are a little more experienced, a little more knowledgeable and this opening is going much more smoothly,” he said.
Prescott said many who came for opening day were the ones they had to turn away over the past three months because the store wasn't open yet.
“But they've been waiting very patiently — some not so patiently,” he added. “It's a big thing. There's really not anything like us out here.”
Fresh Thyme's goal to become ingrained in the community by making healthier products more attainable has already played a role in the convenience of fresh foods.
Prescott said the store offers more to the community than the next closest available health food store — Whole Foods in Wexford.
Fresh Thyme also focuses on being part of the community, Prescott said, by giving to local charitable causes and seeking artisans, producers and farmers to carry its products and produce.
“We support three food banks here,” he said. “We donated $2,500 to the local library yesterday at the soft opening. You have to give back to the community. That's something very important to us. It lets people know that we're part of the community, not just a store.”
Fresh Thyme is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.