The parking lot inside the Stonehill Marketplace at 1386 Atwood Avenue in Johnston has never been as full as it was last Thursday morning.
Even before a scheduled media and dignitary preview and official ribbon cutting, an estimated 150 people formed a long line and waited patiently for Johnston’s newest food store, Aldi, to open.
Sometime around 8:30, Jay Olson, the store manager, who was joined by Mayor Joseph Polisena, State Sen. Frank Lombardo, Town Councilman Richard J. DelFino III and Aldi officials, performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting and soon thereafter the doors opened.
Almost instantly, people were impressed with the inner workings and offered statements like “this place is beautiful; wow, it’s well-lighted” and as one of many signs read, “Say hello to freshness.”
“I have a feeling this will be a busy store,” said Polisena as he walked around the well-appointed 19,000 square foot facility with Aldi Director of Operations Patrick McDermott and Alex Palmer. “I’m really glad you people decided to come to Johnston.”
To which Sen. Lombardo added: “This is a breath of fresh air coming to Johnston.”
Likewise, Civetti offered: “Aldi gives shoppers another option … more variety … competition is good for our residents.”
Unlike Lombardo and Civetti who are expected to continue their political careers after next Tuesday’s general election, DelFino, who has been part of Johnston’s on-going economic development in the past four years said, “I’m honored and pleased to take part in the ribbon cutting of Aldi’s, one of the many new businesses that now call Johnston home. I wish them nothing but the best and welcome them to our community.”
Polisena, who time and again noted how impressive the new Aldi store is and made special mention of such signs as “Apparently rock bottom has a basement – Low, Low, Low prices. My wife will love shopping here.”
Perhaps the most impressive of signs mounted on walls and over various departments read “Guaranteed Quality” best describes what Aldi has brought to Johnston and its other nine locations throughout Rhode Island.
“Most of our store have the same footprint,” McDermott told Polisena, as they watched people shop in amazement with the low pricing and wide variety of well displayed foods. “We don’t have any gimmicks, just high quality products.”
That has always, as McDermott would later explain, been the Aldi way since the food store chain opened its first store in the United States back in 1976.
When asked how company officials came about naming their store Aldi, McDermott explained that the company was founded in 1911 in Essen, Germany and was named for the owners from the Albrecht family that operated their stores back then under the name Albrecht Discount.
Last Thursday, shoppers like Pat Giardina and dozens of other Johnstonians were impressed with each department inside the colorful store and marveled about the pricing.
“I’ve got a new place to shop,” Giardina added while chatting with several shoppers. “And these gift cards … wow.”
People who stood in line last Thursday morning waiting for Aldi to open, not only went home with a bag full of bargains but were impressed that store officials handed out gift cards that ranged from $10 to $50 they could exchange for products.
The new Aldi store will employ 15 people, some of whom McDermott told Polisena and town officials live in Johnston.
As people were leaving Aldi last Thursday, many shoppers including Polisena and company observed cashiers sitting on swivel chairs instead of standing.
“That’s pretty unique,” Civetti offered. “The best thing about Aldi coming here the company coming here still what had been an empty store.”