‘Fast, simple, easy’

ALDI is back with a new look

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
: Karissa Prior, ALDI district manager, left, and Andra Davis, ALDI regional director of operations, stand near the front of the redesigned store.

ALDI’s Fort Dodge grocery store, 2736 First Ave. S., is back with a redesigned look and a wider selection of food options for its customers.

The store, which has been in Fort Dodge since 1993, underwent an extensive remodel in the spring. It was closed for six weeks as upgrades were made inside and outside of the building.

“One big thing with the remodel is 20 percent of the product selection is now new,” said Andra Davis, ALDI regional director of operations. “Of that 20 percent, 40 percent is refrigerated product — fresh products, dairy, meat, fresh on the go — and for that we added about 40 percent refrigeration in our stores. That fresh, healthy, and convenient product.”

Davis, who has worked for the company since 1997, said the old layout would not accomodate the wider product selection.

She said the store is easier to navigate.

-Messenger photos by Chad Thompson
Shoppers at ALDI have a wider selection of food items after the store was remodeled in the spring.

“The aisles are now easily accessible,” Davis said. “It feels smart, fast, and easy. That’s what I think people would say, and that’s what we want is fast, simple, easy.”

The building is about 15,000 square feet.

“Total square footage may not feel bigger to customers because we keep prototype sales floor the same amount, but the backroom is larger,” Davis said.

An increase in storage space was made possible after the company purchased space next door that used to be a Dollar General store.

The parking lot has also been reconstructed and is designed to be more stable than the old one.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Andra Davis, ALDI regional director of operations, organizes the store’s bread section.

The company’s investment in Fort Dodge is part of its $1.9 billion initiative to remodel and expand more than 1,300 ALDI stores nationwide by the end of 2020.

ALDI has 12 stores in Iowa.

The Fort Dodge store reopened in June.

Among the things customers may notice when they walk in, according to Davis, is an open ceiling concept, natural lighting, and an LED lighting system.

“We are using a lot of environmentally friendly materials,” Davis said. “We are trying to be as sustainable as possible. Before we were kind of boxed in.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Karissa Prior, ALDI district manager, left, and Andra Davis, ALDI regional director of operations, show off a variety of salads available at the store.

In terms of signature items, Davis said customers often point to the store’s fresh produce.

“Customers always talk about our fresh produce,” she said. “The quality and affordable price. The second thing is our organic line. And the third thing is our gluten free line. It’s well-positioned around the store, so you are well aware where those products are.”

Another popular section is ready-to-go meals.

“Chicken, pasta options, salad options,” Davis said. “For those working families.”

When strollling through the ALDI store, anything with a blue tag on it means it’s a new product, Davis said.

Yellow tags represent items that are offered at the store on a consistent basis.

Another separate department is called ALDI Finds

“These are things that are a unique item, unique to the season,” Davis said. “Right now it’s grill items, ready-to-go drinks.”

Easter candy or Christmas gifts would be other examples.

One of the things ALDI is known for is its shopping cart rental system, which involves depositing a quarter to get a cart from the rack.

“Not only do customers get their deposit back, there are no stray carts taking up space in the parking lot or causing dents to cars,” a statement on the website reads. “By not having to hire someone to police the shopping carts, we are able to pass the savings on to our customers.”

The company also encourages customers to bring their own shopping bags.

“The end result is that we not only save our customers money by avoiding adding the cost of the bag to our prices, but also precious resources,” a statement on the website reads.

Davis added, “We have everything now that you need. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s kind of our motto.”

The store employs anywhere between 10 and 15 employees.

Four of those positions are management, while about 10 are associates. Stephanie Dolezal is the local manager.

“They do everything from cashier to stocking,” Davis said. “We have a smaller layout. A smaller footprint store requires a smaller staff. We also crosstrain everyone, so they know what to do. Everyone gets to cashier, clean, customer service…”

ALDI was founded in Essen, Germany. It has more than 1,600 stores in 35 states throughout the United States.