For the two dozen shoppers who've been waiting for two years -- and regularly calling a newspaper reporter for update on the estimated date of arrival -- for small-format, no frills deep discount grocery chain Aldi USA to open its first store in the Tampa Bay region in Florida, the wait ends on Thursday.
Aldi, which operates about 850 stores throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic region and parts of the eastern USA, opens its first store in Florida, in Clearwater, this Thursday. An additional eight Aldi markets also will open on the same dayin the region.
The timing seems right in the minds of a number of the area's shoppers, according to a piece in today's St. Petersburg Times newspaper.
The writer of the story, St. Petersburg Times' staff writer Mark Albright, says a Florida consumer named Johana Szokie "is one of two dozen ardent Aldi fans who have called me for two years to learn when their favorite little grocer finally makes landfall in the Tampa Bay area" in Florida, of which Clearwater is a part.
Those are two dozen very dedicated shoppers. The type any grocery chain would be proud to have.
And in the case of Ms. Szokie, she doesn't even live in Clearwater. However, she tells reporter Mark Albright she will be driving to the Aldi store when it opens in the city on Thursday morning.
Aldi USA, which is the Illinois-based U.S. division of German small-format deep discount grocery chain Aldi International, has big plans in Florida, which is one of the top five food and grocery sales markets in the U.S.
The company expects to open from 25 -to- 50 of the no frills, little deep discount markets in Florida by 2010, with many more coming after that.
Aldi also has built a distribution center in Florida to serve its stores in the region. A grocery chain doesn't do that unless it has big (or big-little in the case of Aldi stores) development plans in terms of having a high store count in a given market.
The St. Petersburg Times story offers a nice local angle on the Aldi stores set to open in parts of Florida on Thursday.
In addition to the excited shoppers, Florida's major supermarket chain's like Publix and Winn-Dixie are watching Aldi closely on their respective home turf.
In fact, you can bet both chains, along with nearly every other supermarket chain in the state, will have "undercover representatives" attending Thursday's Aldi store grand openings, along with those dozen excited shoppers and many others.
To read past stories about Aldi in Natural~Specialty Foods Memo just click the links below: