It’s an hour and half drive from Elaine Nelson’s hometown of Elroy to Onalaska, but that didn’t stop her from being third in line at 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 11, for Aldi’s grand reopening.
The grocer completed its renovation project at the 3133 Market Place Drive location almost exactly four months after it started April 10. Shoppers were welcome inside during much of the remodel, but it closed the store for much of July.
The store quietly reopened two weeks ago while the storefront was still under construction, much to Nelson’s
“We buy all our groceries at Aldi,” Nelson said.
Nelson has had her son-in-law, Frank Bufton, on the lookout for when the store’s renovation was complete. Bufton works in La Crosse, so it wasn’t too far out of his way to stop and ask when customers would be welcomed back.
“Last night, we made him stop and make sure (it was today),” Nelson said.
Nelson chatted with first in line Renee Transburg of West Salem and second Ruth Bartsch of Onalaska before the store cut the ribbon at about 8:30 a.m. to officially open its newly-renovated store to the public.
All three had nothing but good things to say about the store, calling it their first stop for groceries.
“What I can’t get here, then I go somewhere else and get,” Transburg said.
Those items should be fewer and farther between, according to Aldi division vice president Matt Lilla.
“If people haven’t tried this Aldi store in a while, they should stop in,” said Lilla. “I think they’ll be very pleased with what they find.”
Aldi has added additional fresh bread, produce and wine options, he said, and the renovation has increased space for both current and future products.
“The store is 20 percent larger,” Lilla said. “We added an entire aisle and widened the existing aisles.”
The store has also expanded its meat department, which is good news for Bartsch.
“I think their meat is way better,” Bartsch said.
She was quick to add that it’s not just meat she prefers to buy at Aldi.
“I have not had one thing here that’s been bad,” Bartsch said.
Nelson was able to name one – a watermelon that certainly seemed OK in the store – but said Aldi took it back a week later without an issue.
The renovation also added more walkways and windows and raised the ceiling to create a more open shopping environment.
“The look and feel has changed dramatically,” Lilla said. “It’s a much more pleasant customer experience,” he added.
As part of the same $1.6 billion investment in U.S. stores, Aldi has also recently renovated its Tomah location.
Lilla said the public should be on the lookout for more expansion, saying Aldi has plans in the works for a new location in La Crosse’s South Side within five years.