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.

Jeff Thompson November 18, 2011 at 01:32 PM
It appears to me from this article the "new opening" is more a threat or not a threat to the competition which is exactly what this economy needs--competitive pricing. It would have been nice to read more about how Aldies offers a gallon of milk for $2.49, split-top wheat bread for $1.19 a loaf, Hamburger buns for under a buck. Target milk is well over $3 per gallon and that is just one of this model’s cost-saving benefits driving more and more customers to Aldies. 6 years ago, Aldies was barely on the map in Coon Rapids and today the customer base is growing and growing. What does Aldies have that the others do not? Low-prices and a business model that is kicking the competitor’s grocery cart.
Laurie Buck November 18, 2011 at 02:42 PM
Comparing Bob's Produce to either Aldi or Mike's is like comparing French Champagne to 2 Buck Chuck. As a single mother of a teenager on a limited budget, I shop where I get the best bang for my buck. I use coupons, I compare ads. I compare quality. I rarely shop at Mike's because I prefer my food to still be in date, regardless of their assurance that the food is still edible. If the only 2 available places for me to shop were Bob's and Aldi, I could still be a Frugal Fridley Family. As a Bob's shopper I rarely go anywhere near the left side of their store (canned goods, dairy, frozen). As an Aldi shopper, I go nowhere near their meat, but their canned goods and dairy prices can't be beat--except by a large chain using coupons. And comparing 80 employees vs the bare bones at Aldi? Aldi doesn't have a fresh deli, bakery, or meat department, of course they'll have less employees.
Amy Paddock November 18, 2011 at 02:49 PM
I am one of those "flight" shoppers who makes planned trips for the products I need at a low price or for each place for defined products. No, Aldies does not have everything I need. It does help other grocery stores in my case, because I am more likely to shop at a location where I have closer/easier access to all types of products for cost and quality.
Jeff Thompson November 18, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Good points Lori!
Amy Paddock November 18, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Bob's is really a well known, and they do have that close community feel to it that everyone seems to like. I know people who go there from further out neighborhoods as well.
Laurie Buck November 18, 2011 at 04:51 PM
The point I was trying to make was that Aldi and Bob's are on the opposite ends of the spectrum where grocery shopping is concerned. But saying that Aldi's quality doesn't compare to theirs? It really depends on what you're comparing. Aldi doesn't sell fresh cut meat. They don't have a deli or a bakery in-store. Bob's has more of a boutique feel and has prices that reflect that. Their regular grocery prices are outrageous, Aldi's brand quality is comparable to name brands and cost much less. Like comparing apples to oranges, there really is no way to compare the two stores.
Amy Paddock November 18, 2011 at 05:01 PM
And you made some very good points - and I understood them. I was just adding some more! ;)
Laurie Buck November 18, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Amy, I shop like you. I make a list, I check the ads, I check my coupons, and then I make a circle. What I can't get cheaper with coupons as name brands I buy at Aldi's, which is usually saltines for 89c, cream of mushroom/chicken soup I use as a base (but I'll be buying Campbell's at Walmart this week for 35c a can with a coupon), canned mushrooms, and oil. My son loves their Chicken Fries, and I can usually get by with buying their french fries. =)
Jeff Thompson November 18, 2011 at 05:23 PM
I agree with both of you. I can not shop at Aldies for everything; however, I can not shop at Bob's for everything either. Since I got the big freezer and stocked up at a southern meat locker, Aldies, cub and Bob's have become part of my network for specific shopping. Choices are grand.
Amy Paddock November 18, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Shopping is almost like a "mission", especially these days. I try and help supplement my daughters cupboard at college as well - so it means being even more careful. I use coupons where ever I can get them. Target has a good online coupons, that you can select and print off from computer. Man, this is almost like going hunting. =)
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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