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(LA Times) — In the foothills of La Crescenta, a small Trader Joe’s grocery store has been nestled in a strip mall of tiny shops and laundromats, a neighborhood institution for 43 years — and the second-oldest location for the popular Southern California-based grocery chain. But taped on its doors are handwritten signs noting the end of its reign: “We’re moving!”

When the Foothill Boulevard location closes its doors Thursday, most of its crew will transition to the newest Trader Joe’s in nearby Montrose, a built-from-scratch store that boasts more spacious aisles, higher ceilings and a trim brick-and-glass exterior.

After decades cultivating an image as the cozy neighborhood grocer, the sparkling 14,670-square-foot store, opening Friday, highlights the conundrum facing the Monrovia company: how to maintain the eclectic, friendly vibe that has garnered it legions of faithful shoppers, while expanding at a brisk pace.

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