• Aldi gets rave reviews from shoppers
    By
     | August 16,2013
     
    Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo

    Cashier Amanda Ley, right, rings out Judy Mangels at the opening of the new Aldi supermarket on South Main Street in Rutland on Thursday.

    For Dema Hart of Pittsford, the opening of the Aldi supermarket on South Main Street will save her a trip.

    “I usually go down to the Aldi in Bennington,” said Hart, who was standing in line under sunny skies with a few dozen other shoppers waiting for the grand opening Thursday morning.

    Hart said there was one reason why she would make the monthly trek down to Bennington: big savings over other major supermarkets in the area.

    She wasn’t alone in her praise of Aldi and its low prices and quality.

    “It’s a great store,” said Zena Gates, who was waiting with her husband, Robert. “You’ve got to like the products.”

    The Mount Holly couple said shopping around for the lowest prices is no small matter either.

    “We’re on a fixed income,” Zena Gates said.

    Bernie Graham of Rutland routinely travels over to the Aldi in Glens Falls, N.Y. Graham said he hopes with the new competition, Hannaford and Price Chopper may “drop some of their prices.”

    For Aldi, Rutland represents its second store in the state. The Bennington Aldi opened several years ago.

    The German-based supermarket chain boasts what it says are “unbeatable prices.” When switching from name brands to Aldi’s 1,400 private-label brands, the company said shoppers can save “up to 50 percent.”

    Shortly after a 9 a.m. ribbon cutting, shoppers with carts in hand got their first glimpse of the 18,000-square-foot store.

    Instead of the typical supermarket with items individually stacked on shelves, Aldi is a no-frills supermarket — more like a warehouse store — with cut open boxes of canned vegetables, cereals and paper goods, neatly stacked row after row.

    Here’s a small sampling of prices: Aldi brand canned corn, 49 cents; fresh celery, $1.29 a bunch; a 5-pound bag of sugar, $2.19; raisin bran, $1.89; milk, $2.89 a gallon; large eggs $1.49 a dozen.

    The store also carries fresh meat and produce.

    One neatly dressed couple from Middletown Springs said they routinely shop the Aldi in Glens Falls. But they also said while Aldi offers significant savings on many items, the store doesn’t carry everything someone would find in a major supermarket.

    One item no Aldi in the U.S. carries are tobacco products. As the story goes, the brothers who started Aldi in Germany disagreed on whether tobacco products should be sold, so they divided the company into north and south divisions. The southern division, which includes the U.S., does not sell tobacco products.

    The store does, however, sell beer and wine.

    The store also does business differently to hold down costs. Shopping carts require a quarter deposit and shoppers are encouraged to bring their own shopping bags. The store sells bags at a nominal cost. Shoppers also bag their own groceries at the checkout.

    The store takes cash, debit and EBT cards but does not accept credit cards or checks.

    Michael Aschbrenner, Aldi operations director, said Rutland had been in the company’s plans for some time.

    “The one store we have in Bennington, Vt., the customers have given us really positive feedback as to their needs and what we can bring to the community,” Aschbrenner said in an interview. “So Rutland has been a project of ours for several years.”

    Although the Rutland area is an older, low- to middle-class community, Aschbrenner said a number of factors went into putting a store here but he said “all demographics benefit from shopping at an Aldi.”

    Aldi has 16 full-time employees and two part-time workers. Aschbrenner said the average pay is $12.25 an hour with full-time workers receiving benefits, including medical, dental, life insurance and a 401(k) plan.

    At the ribbon-cutting attended by city, town and Aldi officials, Mayor Christopher Louras made his comments brief.

    “And I’m not going to give a speech,” Louras said. “I just want you guys inside this building shopping.”

    The store is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

    bruce.edwards@rutlandherald.com

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