ALPENA - It looks as if there may be another company vying for a piece of the grocery market in Alpena. Aldi, which has operated in Michigan for more than 20 years, is looking to expand into northern Michigan and Alpena is one of several cities on the company's radar.
The store, which is known for its low prices, has 61 locations scattered around the state and recently submitted a request to the Alpena County Road Commission for an access drive that would lead motorist from Bagley Street to the rear of the current Staples store. The commissioners rejected the request, citing the currently amount of traffic and its proximity to the stoplight at M-32. Despite the setback, the company still has interest in opening a store locally.
The company was instructed by the road commission to have an independent traffic impact study done and to have the results submitted with the access drive request. After reviewing it the board voted to deny the request. Dave Kapusansky, Aldi's director of real estate in Michigan said he is still hopeful something can be worked out and the store can move forward.
"Traffic access is important for not only the company, but its customers," Kapusansky said. "We will be working the best we can given the circumstances we have in the locality."
Kapusansky said Alpena is just one of several markets where new stores could be opened. He said the company has had interest in Alpena for some time and doing the work needed to make it a reality.
"Northern Michigan is a great regional market and we started expansion into it two years ago. I think we can provide the type of service people would appreciate," Kapusansky said. "Although nothing is official we would love to have a store open next year in Alpena. That is the goal we are working toward at least."
There also are plans for stores to open in Ludington, Gaylord and Petoskey in the next year or two. Kapusansky said an Aldi store features all of the non-perishable food products customers count on, as well as fresh produce and meat. He said if the store in Alpena moves forward, he is not concerned about the number of other grocery stores, or the possibility of the market becoming saturated.
An Aldi store is similar to Save-a-Lot as customers are encouraged to bring their own bags and fill them themselves after check out. It is because of steps like these that allow the company to sell the products, which bear the company's brand, at steep discounts.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.