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Discount grocery Aldi opened its first store in the Fresno-Clovis area Thursday.
About 100 people lined up for the store opening at 1725 Herndon Ave. in Clovis, in the former Fresh & Easy store near Fowler Avenue.
The first woman in line showed up at 5 a.m. – in flip flops in the chilly morning air – for the 8 a.m. opening. The first 100 people in line had a chance to win a gift card worth $5 to $100.
Aldi is on a massive expansion kick in the United States, especially in California. The Germany-based company plans to spend $3.4 billion to expand to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022.
Though most of its stores are in Texas and states east of there, it is rapidly opening stores in California. This is 70th store in the state.
Aldi has already opened stores in Hanford and Porterville.
Though many shoppers familiar with the store have been eagerly awaiting its opening, it’s still a new brand for many Valley shoppers.
So thought we’d introduce you to the store with a few basic things to know.
▪ 1. It’s pronounced ALL-dee. The brothers who founded it, Karl and Theo Albrecht, combined their last name with the word “discount” to create Aldi.
▪ 2. It doesn’t carry everything.
“You won’t see 20 different kinds of ketchup, you’ll see one or two,” said Alexandra Skinkis, Aldi’s director of operations.
Like Grocery Outlet, Aldi encourages people to “shop us first” to find good deals, and then pick up what they can’t find elsewhere.
It carries about 1,700 of the fastest-selling groceries. That includes 39-cent avocados and a $1.89 boxes of Raisin Bran.
With sales floors averaging around 12,000-square-feet, the smaller size (along with the smaller heating and cooling bills) allows them to keep prices low, Skinkis said.
But it still has the most common grocery departments, including a frozen section, dairy coolers, meat, bakery items and fresh produce.
▪ 3. The “Aldi finds” aisle is where you’ll find the best deals. This is where shoppers can find deeply discounted items in limited supply – and many of them are not food. The aisle is updated on Wednesdays, when its weekly ad is released.
At the opening, Aldi finds included a queen-sized bed sheet set for $24.99 and leather work gloves for $5.99. There was also a wide selection of yard tools.
▪ 4. You need a quarter to get a shopping cart. The carts are equipped with a little lock. Insert a quarter and it unlocks the cart.
When you return the cart, the quarter pops back out.
It’s a way of not losing carts and reducing costs, Skinkis said.
If you don’t have change on you, don’t worry, the staff will give you one, she said.
▪ 5. There may be more Aldi stores coming to our area. This is the farthest north store in California and the retailer appears to be moving steadily north.
“They’re definitely looking for more stores in the Valley,” Skinkis said.
But don’t expect to hear details until work has started. The company likes to play things close to the vest, she said.
▪ 6. Aldi carries lots of its own brands.
Some look pretty familiar. The $1.99 Millville Crispy Oats cereal, for example, is clearly a generic version of Cheerios.
The Winking Owl wine is also an Aldi brand. Most of those wines cost $2.59 a bottle and very few wines from other labels cost more than $10.
▪ 7. Aldi has a rosé wine that people go crazy for. The $7.99 wine won a International Wine Challenge award and customers took notice, with stores around the country selling out of the wine.
It’s considered an Aldi find, so it’s in limited supply.
On Thursday, the store had some in stock in the wine section. Look for the Côtes de Provence rosé (not the LaRue Côtes de Provence rosé, that’s the regular one that’s always in stock.)