Plantra Price stood at the door of the brand spanking new Aldi store in the Gravois Plaza Shopping Center and grinned. In her hand was a $100 gift card she got for being one of the first 100 people at the store’s grand opening Thursday.
“Getting a free card is awesome, and this store is huge,” Price said. “It’s very nicely set up.”
The first 100 in line at the event got free gift cards. But as Aldi always requires, everybody had to pay a quarter to get a cart. When they returned it, they got the quarter back.
Among those who showed up at the event, there was praise all around for the new store at 3865 Gravois Ave. But, to be correct, it wasn’t so much a new store as a relocated one. Aldi had been in a smaller store at 3721 S. Grand Blvd. for about 27 years.
“We decided to move so that we could expand and improve parking for our customers,” said Mike Rosch, an Aldi official at the event.
But Ward 15 Alderwoman Megan Green noted that a replacement hasn’t been found for the Shop ‘n Save that operated in the Gravois Plaza before it closed in 2017. The new Aldi store includes part of the old Shop ‘n Save.
“We still are at net negative on a grocery store for the ward, since basically the Aldi’s on South Grand closed to move here,” Green said. “This is a much bigger location. It’s going to be able to serve a lot more people.”
Nonetheless, Green said that now that there is an anchor tenant for the Gravois Plaza, it may be easier to find a tenant for the old Shop ‘n Save location.
The new store is about 20,000 square feet and the old one about 14,500 square feet.
Those who waited in line to get into the new store said they were pleased with what they saw.
“It’s good. The other one was good also,” said Ruthie Hart, who lives in the 3600 block of Tennessee Avenue with her son Joshua Hart.
Joshua Hart said the new store was absolutely beautiful. “I’m really glad it’s coming to the neighborhood and expanding,” he said. “I think it’ll be not only a good anchor for this plaza, but for the area. I really think it might cause an influx of people who are coming over here.”
Joshua Hart said he was sorry to see the Shop ‘n Save stores in Gravois Plaza and at 4660 Chippewa St. close. “It just goes to show how bad the real economy is, what the difference is between the people on Wall Street and the people on Main Street,” he said. “Trump’s economy has absolutely destroyed the little man.”
Tower Grove East resident Doug Maitz said he had mixed feelings about the new store. “I wonder if it’s going to hurt people, this change of locations, if it’s going to hurt people who rely on the Grand bus because the old location was right next to the Grand bus line,” he said. “But I think it’s great to have another food store here.”
Stephanie Miller said she was excited because the store was a short walk from her house. She was also glad that construction was over, because crews got to work at 5:30 to 6 a.m.
Meanwhile, in the 14th Ward, Alderwoman Carol Howard said the former Shop ‘n Save at 4660 Chippewa St. will be divided. Planet Fitness and, she hopes, a grocer will go into the building. The Shop ‘n Save in that space closed in November.
Local grocers are not expanding and the developer is negotiating with smaller site grocers like to fill the space, Howard said.