Germany-based grocery chain ALDI opened its third store in Spartanburg County on Thursday.
Customers braved freezing temperatures and lined up in front of the more than 14,000-square-foot store in the former Office Max space in the shopping center at 150 E. Blackstock Road across from Dorman Centre.
When the doors opened, local residents streamed in and loaded up their shopping carts, carefully navigating the six-aisle store, which is the largest store design in the company’s repertoire.
ALDI, known for its low prices and exclusive house brands, gave the first 100 customers a “Golden Ticket” containing gift certificates in various amounts.
Genevieve Williams, of Spartanburg, was one of the few shoppers to receive the highest —a $100 gift certificate.
“There is a lot of excitement and energy behind this store,” said Thom Behtz, vice president of ALDI’s division based out of Jefferson, Ga. “This is really a hot area for retail. There is a lot of foot traffic. We’re really happy to be here.”
ALDI signed a lease on the location in mid-2016. The company has spent the past several months renovating the space.
The west-side store is in addition to an east-side store the company opened in 1999 at 1605 E. Main St. and a store it opened in 2015 in Boiling Springs at 4301 Highway 9.
David McCleod, district manager for ALDI, said the company is in the midst of a major growth effort.
ALDI’s plan includes investing up to $1.6 billion to upgrade its existing 1,600 U.S. stores in 35 states, and opening 2,000 stores by the end of 2018.
McLeod said at least 15 jobs have been created by the store.
The starting hourly pay for ALDI employees is $11.50 and employees receive health, dental, and 401(k) retirement benefits.
With one of the company’s primary competitors, Lidl, constructing two new stores on Spartanburg’s east and west sides, McCleod said ALDI is glad to expand its presence in the community.
“In the U.S., we’re growing and modernizing,” he said. “Customers have responded very well.”
The new Spartanburg store features fresh produce, a selection of organic and gluten-free products, beer, and wine, as well as deep discounts on many other staple grocery items.
In November, City Council lifted a ban on Sunday alcohol sales. Customers will be able to purchase beer and wine at ALDI on Sundays.
“ALDI is all about customer service, providing the best products at the lowest cost, and investing in their employees,” said Patty Bock, director of economic development for the city of Spartanburg. “We are very happy they have decided to open a second location in the city and their third in the county. We think they will generate more regular foot traffic, which will benefit neighboring businesses.”
Excluding a Food Lion store that shuttered a few years ago off Reidville Road and the Costco at WestGate Mall, ALDI is the first new grocery store on the west side in about 15 years.
Behtz said the company’s decision to lease the space instead of building a new store was not about cost.
“We were just looking for the best location,” he said.
The store will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.