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An announcement by the Aldi grocery chain that it’s closing its store in north Minneapolis has left community members scratching their heads and hoping they can persuade the corporation to change its mind.
A small sign taped near the entrance to the Aldi at 3120 Penn Ave. North had a crowd around it Wednesday afternoon. The sign read, “Thank you for your years of loyalty and support,” before announcing Feb. 12, as the last day the store will be in operation.
It didn’t give a reason for the sudden closure, which had been announced on Monday. But, David Wellington, owner of Welling Management which owns the space, told Sahan Journal Thursday Aldi will be leaving behind refrigerators when it vacates the building.
“We’re hoping with that we will be able to entice a new grocer to re-tenant that space,” Wellington said, “We’ve been talking to a couple already.”
Aldi has anchored Wellington Management’s properties at the corner of Penn and Lowry avenues since the building was constructed in 2006*, according to Wellington.
Not far from the Aldi closing sign, another group of shoppers gathered and tried to piece together what was happening.
The impending closure of the North Minneapolis location, near the intersection of Lowry and Penn avenues, and across a parking lot from a Family Dollar store, runs counter to Aldi’s reputation as the fastest-growing grocery retailer in the United States. While the store’s manager wasn’t able to comment, a company spokesperson tied the closure to the expiration of its lease at the location.
Passerbyers couldn’t help but stop and ask questions too. The parking lot was full of cars on Wednesday afternoon, while other shoppers arrived on foot from the neighborhood or walked from the bus stop.
Samiyah Evans was on her way, hands filled with grocery bags. Sidestepping a group of people, the 28-year-old shook her head as she tried to catch up to her grandmother who was waiting in the distance. Then she stopped briefly, put her grocery bags down, and lit a cigarette.
She pointed to an apartment building a few hundred yards away where her grandmother lives.
“Everybody in that building shops here,” Evans said, “And you know it’s sad because a lot of those people in that building don’t have kids to be able to do stuff like go get the groceries.”
As she spoke another woman walked toward the store, shouting, “They’re taking the community’s grocery store.”
Like Evans’ grandmother, many people in the neighborhood walk to Aldi for groceries.
The neighborhood is home to a largely Black and immigrant population. Other people travel to the store via bus. There’s a stop on Lowry Avenue near the corner of Penn Avenue located about 350 feet from the store’s entrance.
Evans’ trip to the store on Wednesday was her final one. Next time she visits to help her grandmother shop it will have to be somewhere else. The closest shop they’re considering is nearly a mile away, which is too far for her grandmother to walk.
The two closest chain grocery stores in the area are Hyvee, 1.3 miles to the northwest and Cub Foods, 1.7 miles southeast.
“Most likely it’s going to be So Low or Walmart because Cub Foods is too expensive,” Evans said.
Aldi, a German-owned discount chain, has been the fastest-growing grocery retailer in the United States for the last three years, according to INSIDER.
According to a September 2022 press release from the retailer, Aldi expected to be the third-largest grocery retailer in the country by the end of 2022. It has more than 2,000 stores in 36 states.
A spokesperson for Aldi told Sahan Journal that while the Penn Avenue location was closing, shoppers could visit other Aldi locations in the area. The closest is 4.5 miles away in Crystal.
“ALDI has made the difficult decision to close our store at 3120 Penn Avenue N. in Minneapolis due to the inability to renovate the store to accommodate our larger product range and our current lease term expiring,” the spokesperson said.
“We will continue to proudly serve the residents of Minneapolis at our other area stores, including our store at 5620 Broadway Avenue, just a few miles from this location, as well as five other ALDI stores within a 15-minute drive of this location. We thank our customers for their years of loyalty at this location and look forward to seeing them in nearby stores soon.”
Victor Martinez, 37, saw Aldi’s announcement and began an online discussion through Facebook and Nextdoor.
“It’s not too late, we’re trying to make as much noise as we can,” Martinez said.
His efforts focus on getting Minneapolis city officials to step in to stop the store’s closure, but so far the store’s still on track to permanently close on Sunday.
CORRECTION: This story has been changed: The Aldi in north Minneapolis opened in 2008 (not 2006).