The German-based grocer has opened its newest store in San Jacinto

Photos by Shannon Densmore / The Valley Chronicle
Erica Bernal offering samples of some of their award-winning products.

■ Corey Evan and Shannon Densmore / Contributed

Thousands flocked to the new Aldi store in San Jacinto last Thursday, Dec. 6, to take a look at the new shopping experience in town and to take advantage of the discounts and promotions the store was offering new customers.

Shoppers wait in line during the Aldi grand opening to ring up their purchases.

But what does Aldi have to offer which the rivals don’t? Tom Cindel, Moreno Valley Group Director of Operations and Logistics at Aldi explains: “ALDI is a leader in providing better-for-you choices for feel-good shopping and living. We focus on what our shoppers want, and we’re constantly evolving to meet these changing eating habits and dietary preferences — without hiking the cost. We react quickly to food trends and deliver the same quality at a lower price.”
A typical Aldi has just a 12,000 square foot blueprint. That means the usual supermarket staples of the service deli, bakery and butcher shops are entirely absent, but they make up for it elsewhere: “Everything we do is to save people money on the food and products they want most,” says Cindel. “Not having a deli or pharmacy is another way we keep costs down. This saves us money, but more importantly, we pass those savings on to our shoppers. And, we do carry many of the items that you would find in a grocery deli, such as sliced meats and gourmet cheeses.”

It was raining hard on opening day, and some patrons waited outside beginning at 4 a.m. to be among the first inside the store.

Over 90 percent of items you will see on Aldi shelves are Aldi’s own brands. But Aldi puts tons of time into developing their brands in their Batavia, Illinois test kitchens. Ask Cindel! “It can take food companies two years or more to go from concept to product, but it often takes us nine months or less. To be 100 percent sure we’ve got the highest-quality products, we also conduct independent lab analysis for a second opinion. ALDI also backs up its products with a Twice as Nice Guarantee: replacing the product AND offering a full refund.”
But the effort Aldi puts into this should negate having to use the guarantee, Cindel says. “Even though we can move faster than our competitors, we never sacrifice quality. Sometimes, getting it right takes time. For example, it took eight years to develop a Clancy’s StackerZ potato chip we felt good about selling. It was worth it. We hear from fans about that product all the time.”

Though the store has no delicatessen section, there are plenty of fresh vegetables at prices to impress.

Aldi also offers what it calls ‘Aldi finds’: Limited time merchandise, which rotates in and out by the season and comes to you at a low Aldi price.
So what did shoppers experience at the grand opening? The first 100 people received gift cards ranging from $10-$100. (The “Golden Ticket” gift cards being the ones worth $100). The first 2500 people received coupons for $5 off a $30 purchase. Everyone had a chance to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s worth of free produce.
City council representatives, including Scott Miller, vice mayor of San Jacinto, were there at the entrance greeting the shoppers and giving away reusable grocery totes. By 9 a.m., the store had reached full capacity with all available shopping carts being utilized.
Everybody seemed excited about their new grocery store option particularly after seeing the exceptional prices on everything in the store.
Some examples:

*Eggs- $.79
*Bread- $.85
*Milk- $2.39 a gallon
*Grass-fed gourmet selection of cheeses $3.49
*30 pks of beer under $20 … no wine over $20

“Aldi operates on simplicity,” says Jim Taylor, Aldi director of Operations for the Inland Empire. “This is how we are able to maintain the store and follow through with our belief that everyone deserves high-quality at an affordable price.”
So will Aldi succeed where many others have failed? It’s up to you to decide whether you like what Aldi describes as “Simply Smarter Shopping!”
The grocery industry is a notoriously cutthroat arena in Southern California. Many have entered and exited again. Smith’s came in from Utah in the early 1990s but couldn’t stand the heat and was gone by the end of the decade. Britain’s Tesco sent us Fresh and Easy in 2007, but we didn’t find it easy to live with and it packed up and went in 2015. And Northwest’s Haggen Food and Pharmacy didn’t prove to be a SoCal favorite, coming and going by early 2016. But in late 2016, German newcomer Aldi, short for ‘Albrecht Discount’ burst onto the SoCal scene. And now, it has come to San Jacinto. Aldi is located at 1667 S San Jacinto Ave, just north of the San Jacinto Walmart.
The only thing you need to worry about when you get there is remembering a quarter to get a shopping cart. Not to worry, you’ll get it back when you bring the cart back.
To learn more about Aldi, and their twice as nice guarantee, visit aldi.us.

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