Tresa Boltinghouse and Kathy Ping sat in folding chairs near the doors of the new Aldi store on Third Street. More than 100 people sat or stood behind them, the line wrapping around the corner of the building.
Bloomington’s second Aldi location had its grand opening ceremony Thursday morning. Staff welcomed customers to the new location at 2813 E. 3rd St. The older Aldi location on West Liberty Drive in Bloomington is currently being remodeled and will reopen in October.
Boltinghouse and Ping, retired Bloomington residents, said they arrived at 5 a.m.
“First in line and the parking lot!” Boltinghouse said.
Boltinghouse said she was excited for an Aldi to be on the east side of Bloomington.
“We like Aldi, but going to the west side can be inconvenient sometimes,” she said.
Store manager Chris Pratt, who previously managed the west side Aldi, said he was excited for people to visit the new store.
“We’re ready to serve some guests,” Pratt said.
Two store associates held up a short blue ribbon for Pratt to cut, signaling the beginning of the east side Aldi's service. The crowd cheered and clapped before entering.
The new store features an expanded refrigerated section, overhead lighting above produce stands, wider aisles and a lighter floor color, said Emily Podbelski, director of operations for the Greenwood division of Aldi.
She said new stores like this one carry 20% more products than older Aldi stores, 40% of it being fresh food like produce and individually packaged foods for customers on the go. She also said there are expansions in the meat and alcohol departments, non-food products and national brand name products.
Boltinghouse filled her shopping cart with items including granola, hummus, grape tomatoes, radishes, jerky and a flatbread pizza. Some of Ping’s finds included tomatoes, strawberries, macaroni salad and a danish. They also each received a gift card for being within the first 100 customers, as well as a complimentary reusable bag.
Boltinghouse’s total came out to $20.21.
“Everything I got was a really good deal,” she said.
Podbelski said Aldi offers high-quality products for a low price. Many of the store’s products are private label, meaning Aldi has suppliers that produce these Aldi-exclusive products. This means more control over the ingredients, and it reduces overhead costs.
Aldi also keeps prices low by having a small staff. Podbelski said the new Bloomington store only has 14 employees. This simplifies their jobs. For example, customers are responsible for bagging their own groceries and returning shopping carts to the corral.
“Simplicity is one of the main tenets for us, really allowing an efficient shopping experience,” she said.
Podbelski said this new location is part of Aldi’s $3.4 billion investment to expand from 1,900 to 2,500 stores across the country by 2022. There are still more than 150 stores they plan to open this year.
“We’re still not done,” Podbelski said.
Boltinghouse and Ping both said they would definitely come back to the east side Aldi.
“It’s a great store,” Ping said.