EASLEY — Despite chilly temperatures the prospect of attending the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new Easley Aldi must have been too much to resist for local shoppers who braved frigid temperatures to enjoy the festivities.
Located on S.C. 123, the newest addition to the Aldi chain of stores, 53 in all as of the end of 2013, Easley’s location features an all-new store design and is the company’s first store opening of 2014.
“As a company Aldi is planning ten new locations in 2014,” District Manager Gordon Stewart explained. “That’s a projected 10 percent growth in just one year, which is fairly ambitious.”
What does the new opening mean to Pickens County?
“We want to be there when there’s a population that wants to save money on food and grocery related items,” Stewart said. “As for the local economy, each of our locations generates anywhere from 15 to 20 new jobs and we’re always taking new applications.”
Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell was also in attendance and was pleased by both the turnout and what the new grocery store means for Easley.
“When it comes to jobs, whether it’s one or 500, any economy needs them,” Bagwell said. “They’re all appreciated. At this point we’re not getting more manufacturing jobs so each and every job counts whether it’s retail, service, or manufacturing.”
Fifteen new jobs added to the local employment pool isn’t the only advantage, according to the mayor.
“I’ve already had a chance to walk through and they’ve got some great prices,” he went on to say. “We’re glad to have them in Easley. Competition’s good and if local shoppers can save money that’s even better.”
With only 53 locations in operation, the options for Aldi’s first new store location in the company’s 2014 expansion plan were wide open yet Easley was the location of choice.
“As a company we’ve been watching this area for some time as a possible location for expansion,” Stewart said. “There’s been a level of growth here that makes the area very attractive and it just seemed the timing was right and it was a natural progression to come to Easley.”
Mark Childs, originally a Pickens County resident, has been a manager for Aldi in its Gaffney store but has returned home to fill the same position here.
“It’s good to be back home,” Childs said. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, so it’s going to be great to see some faces I grew up with and be able to be back where I grew up.”