Aldi Food Market submits plans for Pelham store

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham shoppers soon could be getting a new grocery experience, as the Illinois-based Aldi Food Market is moving forward with plans for its long-planned Pelham store.

The supermarket submitted its store drawings to the city on Jan. 25, and is in the process of finalizing plans before constructing the new store on U.S. 31 between Valleydale Road and Alabama 119.

“They are going to build it right across from the Milo’s hamburgers,” said Pelham Revenue Director Mike Morgan. “The (Aldi) store is going to be an anchor store for that whole development.”

Aldi officials originally announced its plans to build the Pelham store in summer 2009, but held off on the plans until this year.

Once completed, the grocery store will be about 17,500 square feet, and will serve as an anchor for future development on the now-vacant lot.

“They are only building the Aldi now, but there will be room for out-parcel businesses,” said Pelham Building Official Bob Miller.

The city is currently in the process of reviewing the store’s plans. If the plans are approved, the company could begin constructing the store “pretty quick,” Miller said.

“I’ve already signed off on the plans. Once the fire marshal signs off, they should get going pretty quick,” Miller said.

Aldi Food Markets have several differences from many other area grocery stores. Aldi offers limited name-brand products, and relies heavily on its own store brands.

Shopping carts are rented for 25 cents each, and the quarter is refunded when the cart is returned to its rack. Shoppers must also either bring shopping bags from home or purchase them at the checkout line.

Because Aldi charges for bags and rents shopping carts to customers, the store is able to keep its prices down by not assigning employees to collect shopping carts from the parking lot and bag groceries.

Once built, the Pelham Aldi will be the sixth Birmingham-area store. The company currently operates stores in Trussville, Homewood, Bessemer and two in Birmingham.