Aldi has landed in Richmond.
The German grocer opened two stores in the Richmond area Thursday, the first of five that are set to open in the region this year as part of the company’s aggressive nationwide expansion.
A line of customers wrapped around the 17,000-square-foot Henrico County location at 1776 N. Parham Road on Thursday morning.
“Richmond is the right market for Aldi,” said Jeff Baehr, vice president of Aldi’s Frederick, Maryland, division. “We take a simple, cost-effective approach to shopping.”
The Parham store, which keeps a staff of between 10 and 20 employees, was built on the site where a Topeka’s Steakhouse once stood. Baehr said the standalone building took about five months to construct. EDC was the general contractor for the Parham Road location. Austin Patterson Disston Architects designed the project, and Kimley-Horn was the engineer.
Baehr declined to say how much it cost to open the store.
Aldi tries to differentiate itself from its grocery competitors with a straightforward design and layout. Other unconventional features include charging for bags and requiring a 25 cent deposit to rent grocery carts.
Another Aldi store in Colonial Heights opened Thursday morning. The next Virginia location is set to open in Waynesboro May 7. A store on Staples Mill Road and another in Mechanicsville should open by the fall.
Baehr said the company is engaged in an “aggressive acceleration” all over the country. It plans to open 650 stores over a five-year period, and by 2018 should support 2,000 stores nationwide.