COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – On Thursday, a long line of people formed along the shopping center at 3200 Macon Road in Columbus, awaiting the grand opening of a new ALDI grocery store. Some sat in chairs to wait in comfort. At around 8:45 a.m., a group of ALDI employees and two employees’ children, Zeke and Landon, gathered behind a ribbon and snipped it. Not long afterwards, the store was filled with customers.
Barbara Currington was the first in line, having arrived at 5 a.m. Having shopped at the ALDI on Veterans Parkway, she anticipated that she’d also like the Macon Road location.
“I like all of their stuff,” she said. “The groceries, the store’s clean, the people are nice, so I just love everything about it.”
Todd Gonzales, the regional director of operations for ALDI, said that the first 100 customers received gift cards ranging in value from $10 to $100.
“And then, from now until Sunday, customers can come in an enter a raffle for free for a chance to win for a chance to win a $500 gift card,” he said.
Gonzales said he believed the new location would probably be just as popular as the one on Veterans Parkway.
“We’re excited to be here and serve the community,” he said. “We’ve got great prices with great quality, and we’re excited to offer that to the community here.”
ALDI real estate director Al Keeler said that if the long line was any indication, the new store would probably do well.
“We wanted another market to tap into,” he said. “We looked at the competition in this area.”
Keeler said traffic counts and demographics in the area looked favorable to opening the new store.
“We’re just happy to be here to add a second location to the city of Columbus,” he said. “It’s been great working with city officials to get this one open, working with our developer and landlord here. And we’re excited to bring the ALDI brand to Midtown Columbus.”
Keeler said that in the U.S., ALDI tries to open about 100 new stores a year.
“Often, we hit that number,” he said. “Sometimes we’re a little short, but that’s our target number.”
There are about 1,200 ALDI stores open in the U.S., Keeler said. In Georgia, he added, the company tries to open five to 10 stores a year.
Keeler said ALDI plans to expand in the Columbus area throughout the next few years.
“We’re looking in the East Columbus corridor as well as south of here, as well,” he said.
The ALDI store on Veterans Parkway, the first one in Columbus, opened in 2015. Keeler said it’s done “very well” since then. In fact, he said it’s the busiest ALDI in Georgia.