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Fridley Grocers Discuss Discount Shopping Model

Aldi's new store spurs talk of how discount retailing affects business.

At Aldi, the discount grocery store that just , customers buy their bags, check out carts on loan, and pay for their groceries without the convenience of credit cards or checks.

Aldi’s business model keeps prices low, and it's catching the attention of local grocery stores.

Mike Schroer, an owner of , said he does not see Aldi as a direct competitor.

“We’re not a low-cost store,” he said. “We go to their store quite frequently, and we’re astonished that they can sell that product. ‘You sell that? It doesn’t look very good.’ We’re at the opposite end of the spectrum--premium quality, good service.”

He said that the new Aldi store, three miles from Bob’s, will not have as large an impact as the existing store on County Road 10, though he acknowledged that “certainly any competition will affect us.”

Schroer said that Aldi is “causing a rift in the industry,” and that it aims to serve as a supplemental shopping option, opening locations near existing grocery stores

“We employ about 80 employees," Schroer said. “They have three. You walk into that store and look around--they have maybe a few people as cashiers and someone stocking in the back.”

Nick Abernathy, an owner of , said the Fridley branch of Mike’s would be unaffected by the new Aldi’s but that there could be a “slight affect” on the Mike’s Columbia Heights location at 45th and Central avenues NE.

But Abernathy said he hopes the grouping of discount groceries in Columbia Heights will function similarly to the retail philosophy that spurs outlet malls.

“I’m hoping if anything it will just bring more like-minded shoppers to the area,” he said.

Abernathy said he thought his customers would be likely to shop at Aldi, but that that didn’t mean they will stop shopping at Mike’s.

“The funny thing I’ve figured out with the bargain shopper is they go and get five things at one store that they can’t get anywhere else for as cheap,” he said. “They’ll hit five different stores in the same afternoon and get the best bargain at each store, and that doesn’t bother me.”

Bob’s Produce Ranch and Mike’s Discount Foods are family-owned and non-unionized. Larger grocery stores in the area, such as the and the 57th Avenue , will also be affected by the new Aldi location.

Public relations officials at Cub Foods and Target said their stores had a policy of not commenting on competitors.

“We stay focused on what we have to do, which is help our customers find what they need,” said Lilia Rodriguez, the external communications manager for Cub Foods.

"Target remains committed to providing our guests with an exceptional shopping experience and a wide assortment of products to meet their needs," Kristin Jahnke of Target's communications department wrote in an email.

Rosemary Kumhera November 18, 2011 at 06:01 PM
I was looking forward to trying Aldi's until today. I use my credit card for everything I buy and pay the credit card in full each month. I like having a record of all my spending for the month in one place. If I can't use a credit card at Aldi's, then I will keep on shopping at CUB with occasional trips to Byerly's or Lund's.
Jeff Thompson November 18, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Aldies takes debit cards.
Laurie Buck November 20, 2011 at 01:43 AM
I was at Bob's this afternoon picking up a Pumpkin Pie on sale for $2.99. That was the sublime--the ridiculous was the Campbell's Cream of mushroom Soup for--$1.69 a can.
Chris David November 20, 2011 at 05:24 AM
Food is an interesting thing in that people will get mad about paying a dollar more for canned goods but might also spend $40 on dinner at a so-so restaurant. At any rate, Aldi does what they do well, as does Bob's. My favorite grocery store overall is Rainbow, and I'd submit that the Heights Rainbow is the store most likely to notice any effects of being near a new Aldi.
Laurie Buck November 20, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Chris, food IS interesting. But I'd not mad about the price of the soup for me, because I wouldn't pay that. It's the grandma on a fixed income that goes into Bob's for the camaraderie of the hometown store and pays that price because they don't have the mobility to go shopping at more than one as I do. But in my case, saving that $1 on canned goods lets me occasionally spend $40 at a so-so restaurant...lol! I agree with you, though. Bob's won't see any effect from an Aldi that is miles away, it will be that Rainbow and possibly Target, just because of the location.

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