Plan for ALDI grocery gets a push

Efforts are underway to bring an ALDI grocery store to the Muskogee market, a deal which has been in the works for more than two years.

A corporate spokeswoman said the company is waiting to make a public announcement. But a local trust that owns property in northwestern Muskogee requested the closure of an alley and rights of way to accommodate the grocer’s plans.

The store would be between Spruce and Reeves streets, about a block east of an area identified for urban renewal efforts. The tract identified for development would extend from Shawnee Bypass south to Austin Street.

ALDI Inc. bills itself as a leader in the retail grocery industry and operates nearly 1,300 U.S. stores in 32 states. Its primary operating district stretches from Kansas to the East Coast.

The company’s website states that ALDI serves more than 25 million customers each month, offering savings of up to 50 percent on grocery bills based upon comparable products at leading national retail grocers.

Rickey Hayes, who provides retail consulting services for the city, said the ALDI deal began about two and a half years ago. The company’s inquiry prompted city councilors to approve in February 2013 a $17,000 market analysis, which was conducted by Retail Research Group, which contemplated an opening date of a new grocer to be April 2015.

Retail Research Group found “the overall quality of supermarket competition lends support to the Muskogee trade area’s ability to support an additional grocery competitor.” The study concluded “a store with a good selection of merchandise and high-quality periphery departments would quickly earn the respect of area residents.”

Hayes of Retail Attractions conducted a market gap analysis that shows Muskogee residents buy $138 million worth of groceries from supermarkets outside the city. That number, Hayes said, indicates local supermarkets are not meeting the market’s demands.

“ALDI first contacted our company, and we responded to them over two and a half years ago about Muskogee’s need for alternative groceries, a different kind of grocer in the community,” Hayes said during a recent presentation at a City Council meeting. “That will give you some indication about how long that process of due diligence and finance things and construction plans and those things take.”