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Article updated: 2/27/2013 5:22 AM

Discount grocer Aldi to open eighth Lake County store in Antioch

By Mick Zawislak

A new grocery store in Antioch opens for business Thursday as another familiar food industry name operating in the community of less than 15,000.

Aldi Inc. plans the official 9 a.m. public opening of its "new look" store at the southwest corner of Deep Lake Road and Route 173 (1390 Deep Lake Road).

A certificate of occupancy signed this week marked the end of about a yearlong process to subdivide the vacant parcel and gain approvals to allow the store to build and open.

"That's much welcomed and is showing another sign the economy and market in Antioch has seen some resurgence," said Dustin Nilsen, the village's director of community development.

Developing the property has been a challenge over the years because of stormwater management issues, he added.

"It's a good deal," he said of the end result. "This is a ground up commercial operation. It will generate jobs and sales tax." The village did not offer an incentive, Nilsen said.

Aldi operates more than 1,200 stores in 32 states. The new Antioch store will be the eighth Lake County location for the Batavia-based discount grocer and the first here to feature the new look with higher ceilings, improved natural lighting and environmentally friendly building materials.

Antioch was chosen based on the population density, proximity to competition, cost of the property and traffic patterns, according to Chris Hewitt, vice president of Aldi's Oak Creek Division.

The chain follows a streamlined approach, offering a roster of the most frequently purchased grocery and household items. Many of those are the store's exclusive brand, which is considerably less expensive than national brands. The company touts a Double Guarantee in which if a customer is not satisfied, Aldi will replace the product and refund the purchase price.

Hewitt said that as important as price is "you have to have quality products" to keep and attract shoppers.

At 16,500 square feet, the free-standing building is small compared to some other grocers operating in the village such as Jewel-Osco, which comprises about 80,000 square feet, according to Nilsen. Aldi is across the street from a Walmart supercenter and there also is a Piggly Wiggly in town.

Hewitt said the chain has no qualms about locating next to other grocers in retail corridors.

"If fact, most people typically shop at more than one store anyway," he said.

Jon Hauptman, a partner with Willard Bishop Ltd., a supermarket industry analyst in Barrington, said Aldi was a "tough competitor" that has grown based on its value offerings. According to the company, it has grown every year since it started in the U.S. in 1976.

"They continue to grow as fast as anybody in the industry but they do it quietly," Hauptman said.

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