"We try to make sure each store reflects the neighborhood," said Danville Trader Joe's sign artist Alexis Lopez. "We have an artist who does several stores in the area."
Lopez creates the shelf signs in the Danville store but did not have time to do anything original for the large blank wall in the rear leading past the restrooms to the storage area. So she called San Ramon Valley High School and talked to art teacher Jeff Torquemada. They discussed painting large murals that reflected the Danville area.
"My boss originally said he wanted the train station, the oak tree and the Danville Hotel," recalled Lopez. "I gave them some pictures but they must have done their own research. And they stuck Mount Diablo in there."
Torquemada told her four teachers and 11 students from different classes worked on the murals.
"They had it for a couple of months - they were busy with midterms and other things," said Lopez.
The paintings were completed Dec. 20, the last day before the winter break, and the murals were installed.
The Trader Joe's artist personalizes each store when it opens, said Lopez. For instance, the Santa Cruz store is decorated with surfboards.
The Danville front walls have a jungle theme.
"We're known exclusively as 'the monkey store,'" Lopez said.
Last week, Jessica Pizzagoni, a specialist at Trader Joe's wearing a flowered shirt, said she liked the colorful murals and their subject matter.
"Danville is known for its trains," she said, nodding toward the colorful Southern Pacific engine that looked about to chug right off the wall and into the store.
"It's our way to get the community in the store a little more," said Lopez. "We are a neighborhood store."