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German grocery chain Aldi says 'Ja' to Tri-Cities

Nathan Baker • Jul 15, 2014 at 9:21 AM

After remaining silent for months, German discount grocery chain Aldi officially confirmed ongoing construction not only for a Johnson City store on West Market Street, but also for a second Tri-Cities location in Kingsport.

Last week, after earth started moving on the empty lot east of the former Bank of America building at 1616 W. Market St., a spokesperson for Aldi said it was still too early to confirm the store’s arrival, despite the company’s recorded $1.1 million purchase of the site and an announcement months ago from the site’s real estate broker.

On Monday, Aldi phoned back to make it official and reveal the plans for the Model City.

“We are currently building Aldi stores in Johnson City and Kingsport,” Division Vice President Thom Behtz said in an email. “Both locations are expected to open in early 2015.”

Job listings to staff the stores have been posted online for months, listing East Stone Drive as the Kingsport location.

That site has now been confirmed as directly across Stone Drive from the Kingsport Pavilion shopping center, adjacent to an Eastman Credit Union branch location.

Aldi builds efficiencies into its business model not seen in other Tri-Cities grocery stores.

Shopping cart racks require coin deposits — refunded when the cart is returned — and an extra charge is added at the checkout aisle for take-home containers for groceries, saving costs and encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags.

The foreign company holds a majority share of the German grocery market and has widely expanded beyond Germany, ranking members of the Albrecht family, Aldi’s owners, on multiple Forbes lists.

Trader Joe’s, another domestic discount grocery outlet, is owned and operated in the U.S. by Aldi Nord, sister company to Aldi Süd, which manages the Aldi-branded stores in North America.

Follow Nathan Baker on Twitter @JCPressBaker. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcpressbaker.

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