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home : columnists : columnists September 20, 2017

8/17/2017 4:00:00 AM
Rediscovering Noblesville ALDI
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonNoblesville ALDI reopened Wednesday after the store was closed for a remodel.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Noblesville ALDI reopened Wednesday after the store was closed for a remodel.

By Betsy Reason

You would have thought that a new grocery had opened in town.

Shoppers lined up from the front door to the length of the building. They camped out in lawn chairs. They had shopping bags in hand. And quarters ready to unlock and rent a grocery cart.

The Noblesville ALDI on Wednesday reopened for business after a brief closure during the store's remodel.

The earliest shoppers, who said they were "excited about the renovations," began arriving at 7 a.m., in hopes of snagging a gift card, valued from $10 to $100, awarded to the first 100 customers.

Noblesville's Michelle Graham was sitting in her lawn chair, at the head of the line, bags and grocery cart ready to roll just as soon as store executives, managers and employees at 8:30 a.m. cut the ribbon for the highly-anticipated reveal.

"I know it's been a bit of an inconvenience being closed down for a short time during our construction process. I'm sure you'll appreciate our new look. We did it all for you. Come on in, folks....," Don Hudock, the Noblesville store manager of 25 years, announced to customers, awaiting his cutting of the ribbon, which was followed by shoppers' applause. Hudock said Wednesday was the soft opening of the store, which officially celebrates its grand re-opening today.

Smiling shoppers, one by one, pushed their carts through the front doors of the store, each receiving a free reusable shopping bag and a chance to enter a drawing to win free produce for a year.

As shoppers filled their carts, they lined up and waited in check lanes.

Noblesville's Barb Lawson, who had just reached the check lane and put her purchases on the conveyer belt, was happy about the store's reopening and remodel but seemed to be ready to get out of the crowd. "I come in here a lot, but it's not usually like this," she said.

Noblesville's Kristy Burress pushed her cart of groceries through the store.

"It's beautiful," she said. "It feels a lot airier. I really like it a lot better."

The aisles seem wider, ceilings open with natural and energy-saving LED lighting, and interior signage lends to a more modern feel. "It's a lot easier to find stuff now," she said.

There is more fresh produce, more bakery items and more dairy foods. "They're fully stocked. I'm not noticing anything different from what I normally see, but I'm seeing a lot more of it,," Burress said.

While the store appears much larger, "We actually only added 18 feet," Emily Podbelski, director of operations, said. "Where the end of our check lanes are, that's where the store ended." The check lanes are reused from the store. "We just moved them forward."

She said, "The biggest thing that we like to highlight is that it just gives us much more space to display products. Now, we get to have a special gluten-free section that before was interspersed." There is designated space for an organic line, weekly specials and an expanded wine section, with the addition of Sun King beer and other regional brands.

She said Noblesville ALDI is one of the company's busiest stores in the division, based on monthly sales. "Before we shut down, it was in our Top 10 of sales," she said. Noblesville is one of three ALDI stores in Hamilton County. Fishers and Carmel ALDI stores are also in the Top 10 in sales.

"With the remodel, we're also expecting more sales, so we've hired more employees," she said. Noblesville ALDI employs 10, including Hudock, the longest-tenured manager, going into his 35th year with the company.

At ALDI, shoppers find ALDI-brand foods, bring their own shopping bags or purchase recyclable bags at the store, and use a cart-rental system. Shoppers put a quarter in the cart-rental system, then return the cart to get their quarter back at the end of their shopping trip.

The remodel was part of the company's nationwide $1.6 billion store remodel plan and more than $30 million investment to remodel 22 stores in Central Indiana by 2020.

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

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