BAY SHORE, N.Y. — Every time Edith Lang travels from Long Island to Schenectady, N.Y., to visit relatives, she stops at the local Aldi store.
On the top of her shopping list is Aldi's Moser-Roth brand of gourmet chocolate.
Lang's quest for Moser-Roth is a lot easier now that an Aldi store opened here just several towns away from her Long Island, N.Y., home.
“I like Aldi because you can get quality food at a reasonable price,” Lang told SN as she waited in line to enter Aldi's new Bay Shore store at last week's grand opening.
The Bay Shore unit is the small-format, discount retailer's first Long Island location and second New York City-area store.
The opening comes at a time when the retailer — which operates more than 1,100 U.S. stores in 31 states — is aggressively expanding its footprint. For the last several years, Aldi has averaged 80 new store openings annually. Its first New York City location opened in February in Rego Park, Queens, while another is slated to open in the Bronx later this year. As for other emerging markets, Aldi plans to open its first Washington, D.C., location later this year.
Operating in 18,000 square feet of retail space that previously housed an Office Depot, the Bay Shore unit stocks about 1,400 frequently purchased shelf-table, meat, frozen, dairy, produce and paper items at prices that are up to 50% less than traditional supermarkets, according to Bruce Persohn, vice president of Aldi's South Windsor division.
What's more, shoppers can complete the majority of their food shopping at the store, he said.
“Aldi covers the heart of the grocery list,” Persohn told SN.
Signage throughout the store underscores Aldi's discount prices. “Adios, high prices,” reads one sign positioned on a table that showcases Aldi's La Mas Rica taco shells, 99 cents; La Mas Rica refried beans, 79 cents; a 10-pound bag of Rice Bowl rice, $4.99; and several other shelf-stable foods suitable for a Mexican meal for a total cost of $9.06. The sign compared similar Goya and Old El Paso products that would cost a total of $16.36, or about 45% more than Aldi's private brands.
The Bay Shore site was chosen due to its population density, established retail destinations and traffic patterns.
“Long Island, in general, is a perfect fit for Aldi,” Persohn said.
About 95% of Aldi's merchandise is its private labels, which, along with Moser-Roth, include the Lacura skin care line and Fit & Active better-for-you products.
Aldi touts the fact that all of its labels undergo strict scrutiny. All products receive in-house quality testing, along with independent laboratory analysis.
Store brands are also “double guaranteed,” meaning that if for any reason, a customer is not 100% satisfied with a product, Aldi will not only replace the product, but also refund the customer's money.
“People have nothing to lose in trying our brands,” Persohn said.
The store does carry a few national brands, including Hebrew National hot dogs, Bugles salty snacks and Arizona ready-to-drink tea. Most of these are “special buys” — limited-time offers of products that are available while supplies last. Another reason Aldi carries select national brands is when it determines it cannot find a good private-label substitute.
Along with its heavy private-label emphasis, Aldi keeps prices low in other ways. It does not accept credit cards, and employs a cart-deposit system. Shoppers must first insert a quarter to release a cart. They get their money back once they return the cart.
Another way Aldi cuts costs is by merchandising product in display-ready pallets. In produce, most of the fruit and vegetables are sold in prepackaged bags to speed checkout.
Several people waiting for the Bay Shore store to open already knew about Aldi.
Marian Ewald was thrilled Aldi would be opening near her Brightwaters, N.Y., home. She shopped the store during visits to her brother-in-law in Illinois.
“The prices are good, and the quality is there,” she said. Plus, the store's small size is easier for her to shop. “I like that I can save money on individual items, and not have to buy club packs,” she said.