Not your average Joe's
With an eye toward the city's future, a new Trader Joe's grocery in Irvine delves into the past through inspired murals.
By YOLANDA SANCHEZ
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
IRVINE – The inside of the city's third Trader Joe's, which opens today at Woodbury Town Center, will focus on Irvine's past, present and future.
Most of the grocery store's décor will resemble Trader Joe's Hawaiian-inspired style. But visitors can also see Irvine Ranch history in six original murals that line the walls above the product shelves.
Trader Joe's artist Janey Saavedra spent weeks researching Irvine's history to create the murals. "I wanted to show the foundation of the past and the promise of the future," she said.
One mural depicts James Irvine II riding from San Francisco to San Diego on a high-wheeled bicycle called a velocipede. At age 21, he embarked on the three-month journey that took him through the wide open spaces that one day would be Irvine, said Gail Daniels, Irvine Historical Society president.
In Saavedra's mural, Irvine is towing a wagon full of Trader Joe's grocery bags.
"I think she did a great job," said Daniels, who helped Saavedra in her research. "She really interlaced the history with the art."
It was important for Trader Joe's to make a connection with the community through history specific to the area while not losing the Trader Joe's feel, store manager Richard Carlson said.
Another mural shows fruit fields and the bean and grain storage warehouse that is now the La Quinta Inn juxtaposed with the future Great Park, complete with its planned orange hot-air balloon.
Saavedra's favorite is of the Irvine Ranch land strewn with sheep. In the forefront, a cowboy hat hangs on a post, symbolizing that the Irvine Ranch has hung up its hat, she said.
The murals were completed to 1/8 scale, digitally photographed and transferred to an adhesive material for mounting inside the store.
The store also has original hand-drawn artwork on "destination boards," placed on top of the shelves to emphasize products in each aisle, and "shelf talkers," which list the price and description under each product. All store signage was conceptualized by in-store artist Kevin Wurzer, a former Disney animator.
"The illustrations have a two- to three-second impact," said Wurzer, who spends four to six hours on each board. "It's like when you see a billboard from your car – the message has to be short and sweet."
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