By Russ Pulley
There’s a fresh look at the renovated ALDI grocery in Lee’s Summit.
Some things stay the same. You still use a quarter to get a shopping cart and return it to get your quarter back. The grocer still emphasizes company brands at low prices.
But the new store is more open, colorful, boasts LED lighting, and the old drop ceiling is gone.
The number of aisles has increased from four to five, so the store is able to increase the items it offers from 1,500 to 1,650 varieties of food and other products.
There is more refrigeration for produce and additional organic foods to keep up with health-eating trends in the food industry. It has enlarged its wine section.
No longer does the layout push customers to snake in line from one aisle to another. The store relocated its produce and meat sections so that shoppers encounter them in the first aisle.
The upgrades are intended to stay competitive with other grocers, while still having competitive prices, said Mark Bersted, a vice president with ALDI.
The expansion and layout allows the grocery to highlight its fresh and organic produce and meats.
“We really wanted to improve the shopper’s experience,” Bersted said. “That’s what customers are asking for these days, more fresh foods.”
The company’s market approach continues to be primarily its own brands (about 90 percent of the products) at a lower price than competitors, he said.
The chain has 74 stores in the region served by its distribution center in Olathe and is adding several new stores and updating older locations. The Lee’s Summit store at 600 S.E. Oldham Parkway closed for a couple months and recently finished renovating.
The Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce and ALDI celebrated Wednesday with a ribbon cutting and the first 100 customers got gift cards of varied amounts to spend in the store.
The Lee’s Summit ALDI is one of the first in the 40-year-old company, opening in 1987 at 3rd and Green Streets, then moving to its present location in 2003 in a new building. The company is spending about $30 million upgrading Kansas City area stores.