As readers know, the Aldi Food Market grocery chain is bringing its concept to Alexandria, Virginia, with a BIG emphasis on value. The chain’s first store inside the Beltway located in the City limits of Alexandria opened at 9:00 a.m. TODAY at 4602 Kenmore Avenue in the Seminary Plaza Shopping Center.
The first 100 shoppers received a ‘golden’ ticket, each containing ALDI gift certificates of various amounts ($10-$100). Customers were also able to enter an on-site sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s supply of ALDI produce. ALDI and Trader Joe’s are part of the same company, owned by Germany’s Albrecht family (ALDI is short for Albrecht Discount). The chain, based in Germany, emphasizes low prices and holds the line on some services that are standard at typical supermarkets.
“We are pleased to bring our first store to Alexandria to help customers get high-quality products at everyday low prices,” said Jeff Baehr, Frederick division vice president for ALDI. “We challenge shoppers to switch from national brands to our high-quality exclusive brands and save up to 50 percent** without compromising. As important as price is, the only way to attract and keep shoppers is to have quality products.”
With a lot of nationally know grocery chains in the area, Aldi reps say they’re confident their brand will help make them stand out from the rest.
The store did keep the look of the old Safeway with the high beams across the ceiling and this store has a new design for the chain which Aldi will use going forward with their new stores. Aldi’s Seminary Plaza store is about 23,000 square feet – a little larger than the typical size for the chain’s stores. In addition to the high ceilings, the Alexandria store also features natural lighting and environmentally-friendly building materials – such as recycled materials and energy-saving refrigeration and light bulbs – to ensure that customers enjoy a shopping experience that is simple and easy to navigate.
What helps Aldi stand in is its stores is the smaller, high-quality selection and the no-frills experience for the consumer.
Some ways that Aldi stands out from the other grocery chains include:
- Aldi’s own high-quality private brands account for nearly 95 percent of the merchandise sold.
- Shoppers bag their own groceries and are encouraged to bring reusable bags.
- The store’s paper bags, with no handles, cost 6 cents apiece.
- Customers make a 25-cent deposit to use shopping carts, with the quarter refunded when the cart is returned. This is so employee(s) don’t have to go out in parking lot to retrieve them – which adds cost to the consumer.
- The stores accept cash and debit cards, but not credit cards. Credit cards typically charge stores more as credit cards than as debit cards.
- Goods are sold directly from boxes on the shelves. This allows for quicker restocking (less labor time). Stores carry about 1,400 items, fewer product varieties than typical U.S. supermarkets.
In addition to the private brands, Aldi stores carry fresh produce, meat, seafood, dairy foods, most standard grocery items and some nonfood goods. The chain has its own brand of gluten-free goods, all-natural and organic products and wine and beer brands exclusive to Aldi. BTW/ I tried the gluten-free pancakes and they were AWESOME.
The Seminary Plaza store also has an area called ‘Aldi Finds’ – I saw Stars Wars gifts, tech, seasonal children’s clothes, patio items, small gas grills, and more in stock for really good prices. The ‘Aldi Finds’ area will change based on the season.
Aldi has what it calls a “Double Guarantee” of its store brands. If customers aren’t satisfied with a food product, Aldi will replace the product and refund the purchase price.
“We listen to the customer in a variety of ways and respond to customer demand,” said Baehr. “What you see in our stores are the 1,400 best-selling grocery items.”
That limited selection means the chain’s full inventory sells at a brisk pace, which helps keep costs down, Baehr said.
Baehr said the company’s starting wage in its Northern Virginia area stores is $12.00 per hour and is going up January 1. That starting pay is higher than that of some of Aldi’s competitors.
As a reminder, Aldi is opening two (2) more stores in the City limits of Alexandria in 2016. Aldi is in an expansion mode. The company has nearly 1,400 U.S. stores in the United States now, and plans to have 2,000 open by 2018.