As Aldi opened its newest Minnesota store near Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood on Wednesday, Tim Wright was a little overwhelmed.
“It’s so clean and well-organized,” said Wright, shopping Aldi for the first time ever. “It’s almost too perfect.”
Wright rode his bike to the store at 2601 S. Lyndale Av., and Aldi executives expect many customers will do the same.
That’s why it is the first Aldi in its division of 90 stores in Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin and Iowa to offer shopping baskets. “I like the baskets because I never get more than I can fit in my backpack when I’m on my bike,” Wright said.
Matt Lilla, Aldi’s division vice president, said the Uptown store offers access to a huge number of shoppers — 50,000 residents within a mile and 90,000 within a mile and a half.
“Based on the neighborhood density and the number of shoppers who will come by bike, bus or on foot, we added baskets because we think they will shop us more frequently with a smaller number of items purchased,” Lilla said.
In other parts of the country Aldi has had difficulty with baskets being taken, so the new baskets will have security tags on them.
Some people will use cars to get there and the store will be one of the few Aldis in the metro to have underground, heated parking. Sixty spots are designated for Aldi customers along with about a dozen spaces for customers of French Meadow restaurant across the street.
It’s the 68th Aldi store in Minnesota with five more to open by the end of the year. In October, new stores will open in downtown Chanhassen and in a former Big Lots location in St. Louis Park.
In November, stores will open in Blaine on Ulysses Street, and one St. Paul location on Sibley and one in Phalen Village. Next year, a second store will open in Roseville in the Roseville Center strip mall, along with two more Twin Cities locations to be announced and two more elsewhere in the state.
Uptown already offers supermarkets such as Lunds & Byerlys, Cub, Kowalski’s and the Wedge co-op nearby. Josh Resnik, chief executive of the Wedge, said Aldi is another example of the neighborhood moving away from locally owned businesses such as the Wedge, Common Roots and French Meadow.
As for the price difference between a low-price leader such as Aldi and a high-service, high-end model such as the Wedge, Resnik said, “The way we approach pricing is different. We want to give the farmer a fair price too and not just try to convince our vendors to sell us their goods at the lowest cost.”
The Uptown Aldi store takes up the first floor of a mixed-use apartment building called Rex26. The store offers more windows than a typical Aldi. The retailer worked with a local artist to add a tile mural on an exterior wall.
Grand-opening activities start at 8:30 a.m. Thursday with $10 to $100 gift cards given out to the first 100 adults in line.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633