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Aldi adds to grocery store options in Vernon Hills area Mick Zawislak

Aldi adds to grocery store options in Vernon Hills area Mick Zawislak

Another option is joining the shopping list of grocery stores in Vernon Hills with the opening Thursday of discount retailer Aldi.

Local and company officials will cut the ceremonial ribbon at the northwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Gregg’s Parkway, directly north of Mariano’s, at 8:25 a.m. The first 100 customers will receive gift cards, and shoppers also can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s supply of produce.

Aldi, which is in an aggressive national expansion mode, is the second new grocery to open in Vernon Hills in two months. Whole Foods opened in October as the anchor of the Mellody Farm development to the south. And just north along Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville, Trader Joe’s and Jewel round out the offerings.

When first pitched to the Vernon Hills village board in May 2017, Aldi officials said they considered several locations to build their first store in town and thought the proximity to the other groceries would be an advantage.

“Aldi chooses specific site locations based on population density, proximity to competition, cost of the property and traffic patterns,” according to Atty McGrath, vice president of Aldi’s Oak Creek Division. Rising demand is fueling the expansion and the company looks to be “conveniently based” where Aldi shoppers are, she said.

Great food at affordable prices is the mantra of the rapidly expanding Batavia-based chain, which has upped it game in terms of products, selection and quality. Twenty percent of the product selection is new compared to last year, for example, and the fresh food choices have been expanded by 40 percent, according to promotional material.

Aldi also features gluten-free, natural/organic and specialty foods lines that build on its traditional low-price options, according to said Jon Hauptman, senior director with Inmar Inc., an analytics firm focused on the food industry.

“While there are many food retailers in the area, Aldi offers an appealing combination of strong value, small-store convenience and unique products,” he said.

During the recession a decade ago, the company attracted a wider demographic of shoppers who stuck around when the economy improved, Hauptman said.

Vernon Hills village Trustee Jim Schultz said he was thrilled by the addition.

“I won’t have to get stuck by the EJ&E tracks anymore going to the Mundelein store,” he said. “I love their organic products and outstandingly priced produce.”

The company says new stores feature open ceilings, natural lighting, and additional storage for fresh produce, dairy and meat, as well as environmentally friendly building materials. The Vernon Hills store also has tower elements on all four sides, raised walls to conceal rooftop utilities and other features as aesthetic elements in response to village directives.

“Aldi has found that they have to expand beyond distressed strip centers in order to capture more shoppers,” Hauptman said. “So, it’s now common to see Aldi expanding into more affluent areas than they had in the past.”

Hauptman said Aldi is an industry leader in product innovation and is doubling down on bring new, unique products to market.

Aldi operates more than 1,800 stores in 35 states and is pursuing a $3.4 billion expansion program to increase that to 2,500 stores by the end of 2022. There currently are eight locations in Lake County.

Mick Zawislak, Daily Herald.