BRATTLEBORO -- Dozens of people braved the bitter cold temperatures Thursday morning to welcome the state's third Aldi store to the community.
Store Manager Garrett Phillips led Michael Aschbrenner, the operations director of Aldi's South Windsor Division, and several employees for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. and invited all in attendance to follow him inside to explore the new business. The new building, at 762 Putney Road, stands on ground that once hosted Kipling Cinema.
Aldi is a global discount supermarket chain that prides itself on low prices and high savings. It boasts that reduced overhead costs (such as having customers bag their own groceries and requiring them to rent a shopping cart for a returnable 25 cents) helps provide highly discounted prices. There are also Aldi stores in Bennington and Rutland.
Aschbrenner, whose division includes all U.S. territory east of the Hudson Valley (besides Maine, which does not feature any Aldi stores), said Brattleboro was the perfect spot to open a new location.
"It's a community that's needing someone who can offer savings and not sacrifice quality. The town has been great and welcoming. The community has been very inviting," he said shortly after the grand opening. "There's been a lot of excitement -- even while we've been getting the store ready today, a lot of people were coming by.
"Knowing Aldi's, a lot of people would travel to Bennington," he continued. "So, now, this brings it right to their community and they don't have to travel through the snow and the mountains."
Aschbrenner, who has been with the company for seven years, said Aldi customers can "keep dollars in their pocket" by saving up to 50 percent on national brands, in addition to Aldi brands. The chain also offers what's called a "double quality guarantee." Aschbrenner said that means any customer can get a full refund and a comparable replacement if they are not 100 percent satisfied with an Aldi product they have purchased.
The store's inventory includes everything from lobster tails and chocolate to marinara sauce and coconut water. There is also a selection of beer and wine.
Aldi's promises of low costs attracted people from town and across the river. Roger Dube came from Keene, N.H., to see what the new business had to offer.
"It's a new store and it was something to do today," the retiree said while considering a fish purchase. It was his first trip to an Aldi store and said it was "very clean, very neat. There's a lot choices and a lot of color too. It's very attractive."
Dube may not have to travel from Keene to shop at the Brattleboro Aldi soon, however. The company recently received approval from the Keene Zoning Board to expand a loading dock facility behind the building that used to house the local Sears/Kmart franchise.
Brattleboro resident Jerry Irish also had his first Aldi experience Thursday morning and was pleased with what he saw.
"When I heard about it, I thought I'd better check it out," he said while looking for salad dressing. "So far I like the prices. It looks like I can get a lot of what I need."
According to a press release, there are nearly 1,300 Aldi stores in 32 states. The Brattleboro location will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The store accepts cash, debit and EBT/Quest cards. Checks and credit cards are not accepted.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.