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While grocery shopping usually isn’t the most exciting part of a person’s day, you wouldn’t have known that on Thursday as hundreds of local residents packed the recently poured ALDI parking lot waiting for their chance to buy groceries at Fremont’s newest grocery store for the very first time.

After a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring Mayor Scott Getzschman the doors were officially opened at 8:30 a.m. and shoppers escaped the cold into the newly opened ALDI grocery store at 3650 Elk Lane.

“It’s really special when it’s 28 degrees outside and we already have this kind of line,” ALDI District Manager Ken Legassey said during the grand opening event.

Bundled-up customers began filling the parking lot more than an hour before the store was set to officially open as the first 100 to arrive received a Golden Ticket – good for a gift card of varying amounts.

“I got out here at just about 7:15,” local resident Dennis Row said. “My daughter drove out by here and she called me and said you better get out there—there’s already a line.”

While there was already a line when Row arrived, he made the 100-customer cut-off and received a $10 gift card to use in the store.

Although Row lives closer to both Hy-Vee and Baker’s—and had never shopped at ALDI before—he said he was more than willing to give the new option a chance.

“If they have good prices then I don’t mind coming out so far,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot about them, so this might be my new place to shop.”

Another lucky Golden Ticket winner was Lisa Kriutzfield whose No. 71 ticket earned her a $100 gift card.

“I’ve never win anything so it’s really exciting,” she said.

Kriutzfield said she was going to use her $100 windfall to purchase a turkey and other items for Thanksgiving dinner.

“I was really excited when I found out there were coming to town,” she said. “They have a clean store and good prices—at least that’s what I like about them.”

Kriutzfield said she has shopped at the ALDI location on West Maple Road in Omaha – as well as Council Bluffs – and that she buys all her canned goods and produce from the store.

The ALDI in Fremont is the ninth location in the state for the national chain.

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Along with the first 100 customers receiving gift cards to the store—all of ALDI’s first-day customers had the opportunity to sign up for a chance to win a year’s supply of ALDI produce.

“Everyone deserves great food at affordable prices. This is our mantra at ALDI, and we’re excited to introduce it to customers in Fremont with our brand new store,” Mark Bersted, Olathe division vice president for ALDI, said in a released statement. “ALDI stores are designed with shoppers’ time and money in mind, and we’re proud to bring the community a better grocery shopping option.”

Shopping at ALDI does provide a slightly different grocery shopping experience than most Fremonter’s are used from other local grocery stores.

According to information on ALDI’s website, more than 90 percent of the products in its stores are ALDI exclusive brands.

“We sell exactly what people need at prices they can afford,” Bersted said. “We don’t carry two dozen types of peanut butter. We carry the best options at the best prices, and have food to fit every lifestyle and family.”

Another unique aspect to ALDI is its shopping cart rental system.

Shoppers at ALDI must deposit a quarter to use a shopping cart, but get the deposit back when they are finished shopping. Shoppers also must bag their own groceries at the store.

According to information on ALDI’s website, the shopping cart rental system helps keep prices low by allowing the company to avoid hiring employees to manage shopping carts. There are also no stray carts taking up space in parking lots or causing dents to cars.

ALDI’s layout is also slightly different than most of the larger grocery chains—only featuring five or six aisles.

Bersted says that creates a “streamlined experience.”

“The store’s modern and convenient layout focuses on what people love most: fresh food, produce, dairy and baked goods,” he said. “It also feature open ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally friendly building materials.”

Currently, ALDI is in the midst of a national rollout of an online grocery delivery service called Instacart. By Thanksgiving, ALDI Instacart will be available across 35 states in 5,000 new ZIP codes, according to information released by the company.

ALDI in Fremont is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

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