By Katie Milligan
On Thursday morning, excited shoppers gathered at Urbana’s new ALDI grocery store, lining up as early as 4:30 a.m. to celebrate the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony at 9 a.m.
The first 100 customers in line received a Golden Ticket gift card worth up to $100, as well as a free ALDI tote bag full of goodies. Additionally, all customers could enter a raffle with a chance to win $500.
The store, located at 741 Scioto Street, is at the site of a newly-redeveloped shopping center. Prior to demolition and reconstruction, the building (which measured approximately 65,593 square feet) housed Big Lots until 2014 and a Save-A-Lot that closed in 2018. At the time of purchase, this space was 89% vacant, and Goodwill was the last remaining tenant and vacated the building prior to demolition.
At 9 a.m. sharp, Sarah Brown, ALDI Divisional Vice President, opened the ceremony with a few words of thanks to the assembled community.
“On this beautiful August morning, thank you for coming out! Thank you to our customers for waiting in line!” said Brown. “This is really unbelievable. I’ve worked for ALDI for over 20 years, and I’ve been at many store openings – 40+ – and I’ve never seen support like this from the city and from the customers.”
Brown shared that this location features improvements such as LED lights and additional refrigeration.
“The Urbana location will provide shoppers with food for every taste and lifestyle, including gluten-free, plant-based and dairy-free alternatives,” said Brown. “In addition to our unbeatable cheese selection and award-winning private labels, Urbana shoppers will also discover weekly offerings of limited-time ALDI Finds like candles, delicious seasonal food, home goods and more.”
In response to Brown’s thanks for the support from the City of Urbana, Mayor Bill Bean said, “I just want to welcome you to Urbana. The people have been waiting for you to open these doors so they can come in and shop. Almost every question I get from the citizens is, ‘When is ALDI opening?’”
Mayor Bean then turned it over to Doug Crabill, Community Development Manager for the City of Urbana, who remembers the initial call from the ALDI real estate back in September 2021 that kicked off this project.
“We’ve certainly built a lot of partnerships along the way to make this happen,” said Crabill. “The city and the Champaign Economic Partnership worked together with the ALDI team to bring this forward, and then along the way, [we] work[ed] with the county commissioners on a demolition grant to clear the site, but also provide an incentive for the short-term redevelopment of the site with the cooperation of the commissioners and the Urbana school board — again, the power of partnerships to make something like this happen.”
Crabill added, “One of the most impactful things is just the change that has happened here at this site by this new store being brought to town, and I think that’s why there’s so much energy around it.”
After a countdown, store manager Casie Rowe cut the ceremonial ribbon amid cheers and rounds of applause. Shoppers then entered the store.
In a statement, the Champaign County Board of Commissioners said, “The State of Ohio made funds available to Champaign County through the State of Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program. The Board of Commissioners prioritized projects that were submitted and believed the ALDI project was a worthy opportunity to assist in eliminating a structure that was unused and an eyesore in the community and that would promote activity to the area. Many citizens have expressed interest in seeing an ALDI in Champaign County, and the Board of Commissioners was pleased to be able to partner with the City of Urbana to help accomplish this and to be a part of bringing a new offering to the community.”
Brown and the ALDI team look forward to what they can offer the Urbana community.
“Everything about ALDI is designed to provide Urbana area residents with the best grocery shopping experience so they can get what they need quickly, saving them both time and money,” said Brown. “Our continued growth in the Urbana region has been driven in-part by our loyal customers and making sure they have convenient access to our stores and savings. We look forward to providing fresh, award-winning groceries and products at affordable prices to even more Ohioans in years to come.”
As Mayor Bean summed up, “Urbana’s flourishing! We’ve been in a renaissance for a while now.”
ALDI’s operating hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Sunday.