Over the last decade or so, Albemarle and Charlottesville area has welcomed multiple grocery store chains—including Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Food of All Nations, Costco, and Whole Foods Market, to name a few. But according to recent reports, the region’s grocery industry is poised for significant disruption as two discount grocery giants expand into the County.
Lidl and Aldi are well-known international discount grocery stores with German roots. They both stand out from other big-box retailers – courtesy of some of the lowest consumer prices in the industry. Their entry into Albemarle County opens a new grocery option for residents of Charlottesville and its environs to access fresh produce and high-demand private label products at affordable price points.
Read on for more on where the new Lidl and Aldi will be located—and what it means for C-Ville residents.
Lidl – 29th Place Shopping Center
Lidl is opening a store at 29th Place Shopping Center as part of its expansion plans in the U.S. The shopping center is located opposite Fashion Square on Route 29. If everything goes to plan, the German discount grocer is expected to open its doors to the good people of Albemarle County at the spot where Stein Mart stood by the end of 2021.
With all the fuss in the industry surrounding the company’s expansion into Albemarle County and other regions, here’s everything you need to know about Lidl.
Lidl is a German grocery powerhouse that operates approximately 11,200 stores spread across 32 countries. Their entry into the U.S. in 2017 immediately put well-established grocery outlets on high alert—and for a good reason.
Their attractiveness in the industry stems from their low prices, high-quality products, modern store layout, and hassle-free shopping. Buyers at Lidl stores will notice that most of the products (roughly 80%) are private labels, which means they undergo thorough testing to maintain high-quality standards. This, along with their severely slashed overheads, allows Lidl to eliminate unnecessary costs reflected in the highly-discounted prices.
If you’re wondering where Lidl gets its vegetables, they’ve partnered with local farms in the U.S. They also carry products from other countries, such as cured meats from Spain or chocolate from Germany.
While groceries are the main focus, you’ll also have a chance to shop fresh bread/pastries from the characteristic in-store bakery, an expansive wine selection, fresh flowers, clothing, and even outdoor furniture.
Aldi – Albemarle Square Shopping Center
As if having one big-box retailer offering unbeatable prices on fresh produce was not enough, people in Albemarle County are about to be treated to two competing discount grocers. Aldi plans to join Lidl by tapping into the lucrative Albemarle County organic produce market.
It’s believed that the company is in the process of opening a store at Albemarle Shopping Center, on the vacant spot left by Fresh Market. It is located at the intersection of Rio Road and U.S. 29. So, who is Aldi—and what does the grocer bring to the Albemarle table?
Aldi (short for Albrecht Discounts) is the brainchild of the Albrecht family. According to the company, their launch in 1961 made them the first discount grocery chain globally. In the U.S., Aldi edges past Lidl in terms of store number – with a presence in over 2,000 locations in 36 states (and counting).
Like Lidl, Aldi has earned quite the reputation for surprisingly cheap yet high-quality product offerings. This is possible thanks to their business model of avoiding brand names, offering a small selection of curated products, and energy-efficient store designs.
Most customers also tend to fall head over hills with Aldi’s welcoming, clean, and spacious stores—typified by bright colors. The stores are characteristically smaller than Lidl’s with few aisles, but this somehow works to their advantage. The minimalistic layout and smaller format allow shoppers to get in and out with minimal hassle. This effectively removes the confusion and time-wastage that we associate with big-box retailers.
It’s also worth noting that Aldi is proactive in promoting eco-friendly practices. They prefer to use cardboard boxes around the store, and customers are expected to bring their own reusable grocery bags to cut down on plastic waste.
What to Expect from the New Lidl and Aldi Grocery Stores?
Both Lidl and Aldi send a welcoming message that eating healthy doesn’t have to dent your monthly food budget. You can whip up nutritious meals for your family with fresh organic produce at an affordable price.
For consumers who don’t skimp on their groceries, this is excellent news. Their shopping experiences are about to go up a notch – i.e., lower prices, higher quality control, and more options. It will be interesting to see how C-Ville residents respond to the entry of the competing discount grocery powerhouses in the region.