By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Guten Morgen, East New York!
Aldi, a fast-growing super-discount supermarket founded in Germany, has arrived at Gateway Center.
We're talking $2.99 gallons of milk, and cereal that looks and tastes like Cheerios but is private label —and priced at $1.79 per box.
The multinational grocery chain, whose product lineup is 90% private-label brands, promises prices that are up to 50% lower than those of leading grocery chains. And by the way, Aldi offers a “Double Guarantee” — if an item doesn't meet with the shopper's approval, the store will replace it and refund the money.
Sound like a good fit for a neighborhood with a high concentration of low-income residents?
“Our pricing strategy really fits any neighborhood,” Bruce Persohn, vice president for Aldi's New England-New York City division, told the Brooklyn Eagle Friday before a ribbon cutting to celebrate the store's opening.
Aldi has new organic and gluten-free product lines and 75 different fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy options that aren't budget-busters, he pointed out.
It's among the array of new stores being built in the Phase II expansion of the suburban-style shopping mall off the Belt Parkway. Another, which is still under construction, is ShopRite — which is anchoring Phase II instead of Walmart, which in September 2012 ended talks with Gateway's developer, the Related Cos., about moving there.
Persohn professed to be unperturbed about the possibility of ShopRite's proximity cutting into Aldi's customer traffic: “We're accustomed to competition in every market we're in,” he said.
“We fit nicely into the center. We're right where we want to be.”
The new store has 15 employees, four of them transfers from Aldi's other Brooklyn store, which is on Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, Persohn said. The transfers are now working closer to their homes.
There were 400 to 500 job applicants.
Starting pay is $12.25 an hour for store associates and $25 an hour for management trainees, he said.
The chain is not unionized.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams' senior advisor Ingrid P. Lewis-Martin, who wielded the ceremonial scissors at the ribbon-cutting, said afterwards that the new grocer will be a good thing for East New York.
“It's awesome,” she told the Eagle. “It's an opportunity to buy quality products at an affordable price.”
The shop is the chain's second in Brooklyn and the sixth in New York City. In addition to the Sheepshead Bay location, there are stores in Queens, Harlem and the Bronx — with a seventh coming in September to Riverdale.
Known as a “select assortment discount grocer,” Aldi has about 1,300 items in its product lineup. Other supermarkets have about 45,000 items in stock, according to a New York Times story about the Aldi chain.
Aldi, whose name is a shortened form of “Albrecht's Discount,” was created in Germany after World War II by trend-setting brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht.
“The concept of super cheap groceries wasn't invented in the United States, it was invented by the Albrechts,” said a 2010 story in German publication Spiegel Online about the supermarket chain.
The no-frills 16,500-square-foot East New York store, like all of Aldi's nearly 1,300 U.S. locations, charges a quarter per shopping cart use with a refund when it's returned.
In the United States, the chain is adding an average of 80 new locations annually.
The store drew raves from shoppers who lined up early to wait for the doors to open on Day One.
“I'm excited we have the opportunity for variety in the community,” said East New York resident Donna White.
“I think it's going to do really well,” said White, who gets her groceries at Pathmark and BJ's Wholesale Club.
“I'm so happy — I've been going all the way to Queens to shop at Aldi,” said Canarsie resident Adele Yara, who brought a friend with her to the supermarket opening and was expecting others she told about the store to show up as well.
She doesn't plan to be diverted by the ShopRite when it opens nearby.
“It's not the same,” she said.
Anthony and Pearl Italico of Ozone Park, Queens, made a beeline for Gateway's Aldi on Friday.
“We're thrilled,” said Pearl. They're frequent shoppers at Aldi in South Florida, where they live six months of the year.
Anthony picked out a two-pound loaf of Pane Turano for $3.89.
“I'm Italian. I know all about bread,” he said. “You put it in the refrigerator, it lasts for two weeks.