ALDI Grand Opening in West Boca Square

ALDI had its grand opening yesterday. We stopped by, bought a few items, took a few pictures, and talked to company management. The store is located next to Hobby Lobby in West Boca Square, near Chili’s and the corner of 441 and Palmetto Park Road. Aldi is one of many international superstores that have stores in the US, UK, and Europe, if you like to see if there is an Aldi local to you, you may want to visit Aldi openings to find out more.

It’s not big inside, much smaller than a typical grocery store. We’ve had a lot of comments from readers, including positive, negative, and confused. So we’ll do our best to explain ALDI’s model and why it works for some consumers.
The first things most people notice relates to service and convenience. At ALDI no one bags your groceries for you. There’s a bagging shelf right after the cash register where you bag your own stuff. And they don’t give free bags. You bring your own reusable bags or buy bags from the store.
Another example of this is the cart system. Unlike other stores you have to pay a quarter in order to get a cart, and you get the quarter back when you return the cart.
The idea behind this is to lower labor costs. If the store spends less money having workers bag your groceries and chase down the carts, that allows them to lower prices.
Another big thing along with this – they don’t take credit cards. They mainly take debit cards and cash.

We accept cash, PIN-based debit cards, the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and Link cards. At this time, we do not accept checks, credit cards or the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC).

The last big cost saving measure – the products are mostly store brand. Looking around the store you see an occasional branded item, like the Honey Nut Cheerios above. But right next to them they’re selling their store brand version of the same product for a dollar less per box. We also saw Coca Cola and a shelf with regular brand wines. As part of this strategy, they do not take manufacturer coupons.
We noticed a lot of gluten-free items. They also have a significant sections with fresh produce, meats, and refrigerated items.
The VP seemed very proud of the produce section and encouraged us to take photos, so we did.
So, is it a good deal? We bought a few items and thought the prices of what we bought were less than other stores.
We saw several neighbors and friends, and talked with one couple in particular who are very budget-conscious shoppers. They felt that some prices were better but not all and they were not sure how often they’ll go to ALDI.
One other thing is an issue for a lot of shoppers. Because they have so many store brand items, people are worried about the quality. The chain is confident that their store brands are high quality and ALDI offers what they call their “double guarantee”:

If, for any reason, you are not 100 percent satisfied with any product, we will offer a Double Guarantee where we will gladly replace the product AND refund your money. To receive the Double Guarantee, the product packaging and any unused product must be returned to your local ALDI Store Manager.
The Double Guarantee does not apply to non-food Special Buy items, alcohol, national brands and non-quality related issues.

We had stopped by a day earlier and shot a short video of their soft opening. The grand opening was much busier.

ALDI Opens October 14th; Grand Opening 15th

We’ve received official word from ALDI that the Grand Opening of their West Boca store will be on October 15th.

To celebrate the opening of the first Boca Raton store, ALDI will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. Following the ceremony, the first 100 shoppers will receive a golden ticket, each containing ALDI gift certificates of various amounts.

Unofficially we think the store will open for business on October 14th, as shown by a handwritten sign on the front and what we’ve heard from other sources – see images below and at top.

The new store is located in West Boca Square, the plaza on the northwest corner of 441 and Palmetto Park Road. Target is at the north end of the plaza with Chili’s at the south end. ALDI will open next to Hobby Lobby in part of the space formerly occupied by Beall’s. It is unclear how the store will look at this moment in time.
We previously wrote about ALDI coming to West Boca in May of last year. It took a year and a half, but they’re coming.
Here’s the official release:
On Thursday, Oct. 15, ALDI, the nation’s low-price grocery leader*, will offer Boca Raton shoppers a smarter alternative as it opens its first Boca Raton store, located at 21759 State Road 7. With more than 1,400 stores in 32 states, ALDI is known for high-quality grocery items at incredibly low prices.
To celebrate the opening of the new Boca Raton store, ALDI will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. The public is invited to attend. Following the ceremony, the first 100 shoppers will receive a golden ticket, each containing ALDI gift certificates of various amounts. Customers can also tour the store, sample ALDI exclusive brand products and enter an on-site sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s supply of ALDI produce. ALDI currently carries nearly 70 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including several organic produce items.
“We look forward to introducing Boca Raton shoppers to ALDI, where they can find the majority of their average weekly shopping list from our exclusive brand products – including fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and bakery items – for up to 50 percent** less,” said Chris Hewitt, Royal Palm Beach division vice president for ALDI. “We are committed to bringing ALDI customers the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices in a simple and easy-to-navigate shopping environment.”
The Boca Raton store features high ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally-friendly building materials – such as recycled materials and energy-saving refrigeration and light bulbs – to ensure that customers enjoy a shopping experience that is simple and easy to navigate.
In addition to the store’s new look, ALDI will bring shoppers a wide range of new, healthier options like organic produce, USDA Choice beef and the SimplyNature line of products, free of artificial colors, flavors or unnecessary enhancers. ALDI also recently introduced its liveGfreeTM gluten-free product line.
Customers can expect to find more than 1,300 of the most commonly purchased items sold under ALDI exclusive brands for prices up to 50 percent less than traditional supermarkets. To ensure its exclusive brands meet or exceed the national brands on taste and quality, ALDI conducts rigorous testing on all products. ALDI stands behind this quality with a Double Guarantee: If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with a food product, ALDI will gladly replace the product and refund the customer’s money.
ALDI exemplifies efficiency by eliminating overhead costs through smart practices, such as a cart rental system, through which shoppers insert a quarter to release a cart and receive the quarter back upon the cart’s return. Other cost-saving practices include a smaller store footprint, open carton displays and encouragement of customers to bring their own shopping bags.
ALDI also saves shoppers money by keeping stores open during prime shopping times. The newest location will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. ALDI accepts cash, debit and EBT cards.
Over the next several years, ALDI plans to add an average of 130 new stores each year, expanding the ability to bring grocery savings to more people every day.
About ALDI Inc.
A leader in the grocery retailing industry, ALDI operates more than 1,400 US stores in 32 states, primarily from Kansas to the East Coast. More than 30 million customers each month save up to 50 percent** on their grocery bills, benefiting from the ALDI simple and streamlined approach to retailing. ALDI sells more than 1,300 of the most frequently purchased grocery and household items, primarily under its exclusive brands, which must meet or exceed the national name brands on taste and quality. ALDI is so confident in the quality of its products, the company offers a Double Guarantee: If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with any ALDI food product, ALDI will gladly replace the product and refund the purchase price. ALDI was named the 2014 Retailer of the Year by Store Brands Magazine for its strong commitment to value and innovation-focused private brand product development. For more information about ALDI, visit

Hobby Lobby "Protest": Photos

Protesters gathered this afternoon on the northwest corner of 441 and Palmetto Park Road, motivated at least in part by the opening of the Hobby Lobby in West Boca Square. Our best estimate is that there were 30 people there, though there more may have come after we left.
As we drove in we saw this woman telling people to “Get a new hobby.”
There were a number of other motivated people there:
We had a pleasant conversation on the scene with Laura Goodhue, who is a VP with the local Planned Parenthood organization:
We asked Ms. Goodhue about the fact that Hobby Lobby’s main competitor, Michael’s, is owned by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital. She said the protest was not about Hobby Lobby and they are not advocating for a boycott of the store. She said this was more about making people aware of women’s rights, particularly involving healthcare. She talked about political candidates and made clear that Governor candidate Charlie Crist is more in line with their views than the incumbent, Rick Scott.
When we asked Ms. Goodhue about the distinction between an individual’s rights against the government, as compared to an employee’s rights against their employer, and that employer’s rights against the government. The contrast is between the government’s power to actually ban something, and an employer’s refusal to pay for something. She didn’t give a straight answer to the question.
When we first arrived we saw a protester inside the plaza on the sidewalk right in front of the store. By the time we left he was gone and there were two Sheriff’s vehicles along the sidewalk.
The deputies were speaking with the store managers. We asked if they had removed the protester and one of the deputies said that they were “just keeping the peace.” We asked store management about the protest and also again about whether and when they would be carrying merchandise for the Jewish holidays. Like Ms. Goodhue they did not give a straight answer to those questions.
As we left we saw a few more protesters at the exit:
And to be fair, we did see one counter-protester, out on the median of 441:

Hobby Lobby Grand Opening: Photos and Video

Hobby Lobby is finally open. The grand opening was this morning at 9 am. We missed the ceremonies but got there before 10 am. There seemed to be a lot of customers for a weekday morning and it looks like a good start.
Some key details: It’s definitely big and there are a lot of sections. They have a fabrics section which we’ve heard some demand for:
The store map is helpful:
There’s also a framing section that is likely to be popular:
Here’s our video of walking into the store:

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Hobby Lobby for various reasons, related to their identity as a “Christian company.” When I walked in I was greeted by Jacqueline Chavez (below, far right), of the firm’s Management Ministries.
I think some of the critics don’t get how serious the company is about being Christian. Having Ms. Chavez there at the front door is a sign of it. The “Management Ministries” staff are part of that:

The focus is to exhibit a Godly culture by making a positive impact on the lives of the management teams. I believe this position is one of equipping men and women, right where they are and that is in the workplace. It is exciting to see biblical principles touching and changing lives across the country. Jesus said “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32) The goal of Management Ministries is to let them see Jesus!

I met the two co-managers and they were happy with how things were going. The soft opening was Saturday and business was strong even though it was essentially unadvertised. This is not the first Hobby Lobby in South Florida – they told me there are stores in Davie and Kendall. From the store website there are plans to open another one in Coral Springs in a few weeks.
The store does seem to be running well, but from a business perspective I was surprised at how uncomfortable and unprepared they were for questions about the controversies. In light of an incident of alleged antisemitism in New Jersey where the Hobby Lobby President apologized, I asked about whether they would be carrying merchandise for the Jewish holidays. They had no idea whether or when Hanukkah merchandise would be coming to the store, though the store has plenty of Christmas merchandise on the shelves already.
The managers seemed unaware of the significant Jewish population around them. The West Boca Square plaza borders Boca Woods, which is mostly Jewish, and the Jewish Federation campus is not far away on the other side of 441.
I asked about the decision to locate a Christian store in an area that has such a large Jewish population and they simply said it was a decision made by the company’s real estate division and they didn’t know about it. To me it doesn’t come off as antisemitism but rather that they’re tone deaf. For a more critical perspective see this article in Coral Springs Talk.
Regardless of all of that, we’re pleased to see that the opening is going well. This is a great shopping option for a lot of people in West Boca and also a source of good jobs. We wish Hobby Lobby well.

Hobby Lobby in West Boca: Hiring, and Protests

We have reported previously on the West Boca Hobby Lobby opening and hiring. We previously reported that the hiring event was at the beginning of September. Apparently they’re still going and the hiring continues at least through Saturday as shown in the photos above and below.
It looks like they’re about ready for the grand opening on Monday the 29th. It’s an impressive front:
It’s located in part of the former Beall’s space in West Boca Square. In the shot below Chili’s and Palmetto Park Road are barely visible in the far left background:
And in this shot you can see the rest of the plaza heading north toward Target:
In related news we’ve heard there might be one or more protests or rallies against Hobby Lobby. One reader sent us something about one being organized by for this Friday. That seems odd since the store isn’t opening until Monday and there’s not a lot of traffic at that end of the plaza. The other one was supposed to be a day or two after the opening, which made a little more sense but we never received solid details. We suspect the protests won’t amount to much, but we’d love to hear from our readers if they’re going to attend. We may stop by and take pictures.