The Amazon Fresh grocery store in Federal Way opened its doors to the public on Thursday morning.
As the sun rose, hundreds of people lined up outside of the store at 1701 S. Commons. The first 250 people in line received gift cards of varying amounts and Amazon Fresh tote bags.
But the first person in line arrived the night before. At 11:07 p.m., to be exact.
“I slept in the trunk,” said Claire Hansen, 23. Hansen, a second grade teacher in the Auburn School District and a Federal Way resident, received a $100 Amazon gift card for securing the first spot in line (her friend Polly Tieu also waited it out for moral support, she said). Hansen said the money will go toward building her classroom by purchasing stickers, erasers and other items for her students.
It quite literally was a race to the finish, said 17-year-old Cesar Rios. Rios and his friends, Ernespo Medina and Eric Herrera, decided to get to the Amazon Fresh store around 1:30 a.m. and stake out the first spot in line.
But, Hansen saw them pull into the parking lot. She jumped out of the car and started sprinting.
“I was running with two coffees in my hand,” Rios said with a laugh. “I was close to winning.”
Hansen was presented with the gift card and a bouquet of flowers prior to the Aug. 11 ribbon cutting. City officials, Amazon Fresh management staff and business leaders helped cut the ribbon as the crowd erupted with cheers.
Amazon also presented two $10,000 checks donated to the Federal Way Boys & Girls Club Positive Place and the Ron Sandwith Teen Center.
“Amazon may be an international company, but it has not lost touch with its regional roots. I’m excited that Amazon Fresh is opening their newest grocery store in Federal Way, which will create high quality jobs in the Federal Way downtown area,” said King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, who praised the company’s employee benefits, such as college tuition assistance and the investment into the community.
Inside the store, people pushed orange or green shopping carts around the produce section under the “Welcome to Fresh Federal Way” sign. Hundreds of sensors from the ceiling hang over every aisle throughout the store to track whichever items customers place in, or take out, of their carts.
Amazon Fresh offers produce, a seafood and meat counter, a deli with sandwiches and pizza, a salad bar, olive bar and hot bar. The store’s middle aisles provide traditional packaged or frozen grocery items. Amazon Alexa stations are placed throughout the store for people to ask questions, such as where to find certain items or check prices.
A customer service counter also offers return and pickup services. Starting wage for employees at the Federal Way store is $18.30 an hour.