ALDI comes to Dilworth: Low-price grocery chain opens store, plans stores in Fargo or West Fargo

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DILWORTH, Minn. — The wait was finally over Wednesday, Nov. 1, when locals got a sneak peek of the first ALDI store in the community, about a year after the low-price grocery chain announced its plans to open here.

But it won't be the only one for long, with the company planning to open other stores in Fargo or West Fargo by the end of 2018 and in south Fargo in 2019.

The roughly 20,000-square-foot Dilworth store, 833 34th St. N., drew a steady stream of eager fans of the company and curious shoppers alike during a soft opening to preview its official grand opening Thursday, Nov. 2. The first 100 customers in line before the store opens around 8:30 a.m. will get a "golden ticket" worth $10 to $100 of ALDI credit.

The crowd on Wednesday included people like Janice Goyne, a West Fargo resident who said she was anxious to check out the store months after she first heard it was coming.

"I like it very much because of the pricing," she said.

She's previously shopped at an ALDI store in Fergus Falls, Minn., which opened in June 2016, and said she saved $37 on that trip compared to buying similar products at Walmart. On Wednesday, she said she saved $30 to $40 after spending about $40 on meat, potatoes, fruit, pasta and other groceries.

Matt Lilla, ALDI's Faribault, Minn., Division vice president, said the brand does things a little different than the average grocery store, all in the name of savings.

Shopping carts, for example, require a 25-cent deposit that's refunded when the cart is returned.

"It keeps us from paying somebody all day long $10 an hour to go grab carts, and that keeps our costs lower so we can keep prices lower," he said. "Everything we do is designed to do that."

ALDI stores also don't bag groceries or offer free paper or plastic bags. Instead, customers are encouraged to bring reusable bags, buy them for $1.99 at the checkout, put their food in an empty box or pay 6 cents for a paper bag or 11 cents for a plastic bag.

Lilla said the most unique thing is its products because 95 percent of stuff in stores are only available at ALDI. While some national brands, such as Coca-Cola and Charmin, will have products here, the vast majority of items are private label.

Shoppers will also notice ALDI is a "limited assortment" retailer, meaning it only carries about 1,500 products at a time and only the most commonly purchased items in the most common size—a far cry from supermarkets.

"We don't have 10 varieties of ketchup and 10 sizes," Lilla said as an example.

Nadine Donahue knew what to expect after shopping at an ALDI in Rochester, Minn.

"Some of the prices are excellent," she said.

The company markets itself as a low-price option, offering up what it says are savings of up to 50 percent compared to other retailers and brands.

Petra Olson said lower prices are nice, but she was more excited to once again be able to shop at ALDI.

"It's reminiscent of home," said Olson, a native of Germany who used to go to ALDI stores there. "Also, they have different products than you would find in a regular American grocery store."

She said ALDI will likely become her primary grocery store now that it's in town. Whatever food she can't find here, she'll get at another supermarket.

ALDI opened its first store in Germany in 1961, coming to the U.S. 15 years later. It now operates about 1,700 American stores in 35 states, though it doesn't have any locations in North Dakota.

Lilla said ALDI plans to open its first North Dakota store next year in either Fargo or West Fargo, with another store slated to open in south Fargo in 2019 as the brand continues to grow in America.

"We think we could have four or five stores in Fargo altogether," he said.