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Thrifty grocery shoppers will have more choices in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK

This city may be losing an Albertsons, but it's gaining three new grocery stores to help fill the void.

Aldi, a German discount chain, plans to open two stores in Pinellas Park. The other new grocery is a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, the discount giant's newest foray into the food market.

The neighborhood market and one of the Aldis will be on U.S. 19 not far from the Wal-Mart Supercenter with its grocery, giving shoppers a choice of three discount groceries within about a mile of one another.

The Albertsons at 4701 Park Blvd. closed this month after being sold to Publix. The Publix that is across 49th Street from the Albertsons will eventually be moved there after the old Albertsons site has been renovated, Pinellas Park spokesman Tim Caddell said. Renovations are not expected to begin until after the first of the year.

In the meantime, the new discount groceries will be up and running.

The Aldi at 6700 66th St. N is scheduled to open Sept. 25, making it the first Aldi in Pinellas County and one of the first in the state. It will occupy 16,580 square feet.

That same day, several other Aldi stores are to open elsewhere in Florida, including two in Tampa and one in Brandon.

Aldi plans to open three more Pinellas stores on Oct. 27. One will be in St. Petersburg, another in Clearwater and the third in Largo.

The second Pinellas Park Aldi is scheduled to open Nov. 10 at 9021 U.S. 19 N. That store will have 15,972 square feet.

Aldi promises to give local shoppers a completely different experience. The stores limit themselves to about 1,300 items that include meats, frozen and canned foods, and household items. Most of them are Aldi's private label rather than the more well-known brands. The store occasionally has name-brand products, but those tend to be "special purchases" that are available only while the supply lasts.

The store typically does not have canned and dry food displayed on shelves. Instead, suppliers pack them in cases that can be used as display units.

Shoppers should also take a quarter with them if they plan to pick up more items than they can carry. The quarter pays for the use of the grocery cart and is returned if the shopper returns the cart. This cuts down on labor and damage to carts.

Shoppers also need to bring their own bags to tote those groceries. Aldi does not give away grocery bags. They sell heavyweight paper bags for 5 cents, heavy-duty plastic shopping bags for 10 cents, and insulated bags for frozen items for 99 cents. And don't expect to have someone put purchases in any of those bags. That's the shopper's job. The goal is to cut costs that can be passed along to the consumer as savings.

And be sure to bring cash, food stamps or a debit card. Aldi accepts no checks and no credit cards. This avoids the costs associated with recovering money owed from checks that bounce and avoids the processing fees banks charge for credit cards.

Aldi began in Germany and entered the U.S. market in 1976 with several stores in Iowa. The chain now has 900 stores spread across the country from Kansas to the East Coast.

The Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, with a planned opening of Sept. 23, will also be the first in Pinellas County. It's on land formerly occupied by Sunshine Bowl, at 6900 U.S. 19 N. It will be open 24 hours a day.

The neighborhood market concept was introduced in 1998 with three stores in Arkansas. The company now has more than 130 across the United States.

Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets are basically a grocery and a drugstore in one building. The drugstore has a full-service pharmacy, and the grocery portion of the store has a bakery and delicatessen as well as produce, meats and the usual canned and frozen goods. They also have a photo kiosk.

Unlike the supercenters, the neighborhood markets carry no other types of merchandise, such as tires, computers or clothing. The idea is to provide a place for customers who have neither the time nor the desire to go to the larger supercenters.

>>FAST FACTS

About Aldi

Aldi has more than 900 stores in 28 states. It carries about 1,300 regularly stocked items. Progressive Grocer ranks Aldi as the 24th largest grocery retailer in the United States in terms of gross sales.

What makes Aldi stores different: They accept no checks or credit cards. They charge for bags. They charge 25 cents to use a shopping cart, which is returned when the cart is. Shoppers bag their own groceries.

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, with $374.5-billion in sales last year. The chain includes supercenters, discount stores, neighborhood markets and Sam's Clubs. It has more than 4,100 stores in the United States.

As of April 2008, Wal-Mart's presence in Florida includes:

Supercenters: 165

Discount stores: 42

Neighborhood markets: 20

Sam's Clubs: 41

Distribution centers: 6

Average store size (national average)

Supercenter: 185,000 square feet with about 142,000 items

Discount store: 101,000 square feet; 120,000 items

Neighborhood market: 41,000 square feet; about 29,000 items.

Thrifty grocery shoppers will have more choices in Pinellas Park 09/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:33pm]

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