DOWNEY − As part of a larger effort to expand into Southern California, the popular discount grocer chain Aldi plans to set up shop in Downey by mid-2016.
Mayor Pro Tem Alex Saab announced the company’s intentions to build a store on Lakewood Boulevard just south of Firestone Boulevard during his town hall meeting last Thursday.
The Downey location is just one of 45 stores Aldi is launching across the Southland next year in the hope of competing with retail giants Walmart and Target, who are expanding their own grocery options.
“At Aldi, we firmly believe that amazing quality can be affordable, and we are excited to bring our small-format, convenient grocery shopping experience to Southern California,” said Aldi CEO Jason Hart in June.
Aldi is owned by the Germany-based Albrecht family trust, which also owns Trader Joe’s. Currently, Aldi operates 1,400 stores in 32 states and has steadily grown over the last few years.
With markets roughly the same size as Fresh & Easy stores, Aldi locations are only about 10,000 square feet, selling just under 1,300 items. Although the grocer provides less options than larger market chains, its business model promises hefty discounts from suppliers since Aldi buys huge volumes.
Already popular in the Midwest and on the east coast, Aldi stores offer an atypical shopping experience. In addition to packing their own groceries, customers must also pay a quarter per shopping cart. The quarter is given back once the cart is returned.
Aldi, which is non-union, uses less workers per store, only 20 on average, but the starting wage is $13 an hour for California employees.
By the end of 2016, the chain hopes to employ about 1,100 people across the state.
No timeline was given for when the Downey store will arrive, but the news comes on the heels that the city will welcome several other national chains, including Planet Fitness, Golden Corral, BevMo, and Walmart.