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Bargain grocer Aldi hits Melrose

Bronx Times

A new supermarket offering quality inexpensive groceries has made its way to a neighborhood in dire need of good eats on a budget.

South Bronx shoppers lined up Monday, October 28 for their first glimpse inside Aldi, Melrose’s newest bargain supermarket.

The German-owned retailer opened its doors on Third Avenue and E.155th Street at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with store officials saying they are thrilled to service a relatively poor area with high foot traffic, just a few blocks north of the central HUB shopping district.

“People were used to shopping here,” said Bruce Persohn, a vice president of Aldi USA. “A grocery store in this area is not a foreign idea.”

The Melrose store is Aldi’s second expansion into the Bronx, following its 2011 opening of a store on Gun Hill Road in the east Bronx.

The discount grocer keeps its prices low by producing and distributing many of its own brands.

David Livingston, a supermarket analyst with DJL Research, said the store’s model of efficiency is at the forefront of the supermarket scene.

Aldi is stocked with just 1,400 items at a time, incentivizes customers to bring reusable bags and does not allow shopping carts off the premises.

“It doesn’t matter where they come in,” said Livingston, “no one can beat them on price.”

That could spell trouble for the area’s existing supermarkets, including a Pioneer Supermarket a few blocks south on Melrose Avenue.

“We canvassed the area,” said Persohn, “and we’re confident our savings will hold true in this neighborhood.”

“I would definitely come in here,” said Christina Slack, as she brandished a sturdy wooden stirring spoon on sale for $3.99.

“Look at this spoon!” she exclaimed. “Look how strong it is. It’s so thick and nice.”

Slack said she normally heads out of the borough to buy fresh groceries, going to 125th street in Harlem, or up to New Rochelle or White Plains to do her shopping.

“You normally always get junk in the Bronx,” she said, “but I like this place – and so cheap!”

Jose Santiago, who lives on E. 138th Street, said the box of cereal in his Aldi shopping cart cost half as much as it would at his regular supermarket.

“We need more places like this, where we can save money,” he said.

Melrose’s Aldi is the fifth supermarket the company has opened in New York City, Persohn said. The German company has over 1,200 locations nationwide, and is owned by the same parent company that owns Trader Joe’s.

The new store hired 20-25 employees, Persohn said. Entry cashiers make just over $12 per hour and store managers make around $25 per hour, he said.

Persohn said he was confident the new store would thrive.

“The great things about Aldi is that interest really transcends income levels,” he said. “People are always interested in saving money.”

Ben Kochman can be reach via e-mail at BKochman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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