Goonellabah goes crazy for Aldi as new supermarket opens
ALDI-mania has hit Goonellabah with an eager crowd of more than 120 bargain hunters lining the pavement for the opening of the new store.
With planning in the pipeline for more than a year, Aldi publicity couldn't ask for a more high-profile opening yesterday morning - and there were plenty of fans ready to sing the German-born store's praises.
The man standing proudly first in the line, Goonellabah Aldi enthusiast Bob Wells, first discovered the discounter 15 years ago while travelling in Germany.
Mr Wells was so keen to be first in line he checked the store at 5am while on his morning run, before returning at 7am.
"I just live across the road there and I'm very excited to think we're getting a local one," he said.
"Everything I'm wearing is Aldi ... including my runners and the watch.
"They seem to be able to read my mind; I need something and two or three weeks later it's on special.
"The things I love most are the hardware and the workshop stuff. Also I bought two bikes there, most of my clothes, and all the knicks and knacks."
Asked one reason why Aldi had attracted such a cult following, especially from families and seniors, the 68-year-old said it had got "men talking about shopping".
"First of all they've got men interested in the hardware, so they're happy to go with their wives because they might pick up a special that they've missed a few days before," he said.
"Women like it too because there's sheets and clothes and baby and children's stuff.
"And then the food you get while you're here. It's 40% cheaper than anywhere else.
"I think it's the quirkiness of it as well, you can buy things like crutches."
Mr Wells joked that he'd become so keen on Aldi he wished he could have a tunnel connecting his house to the new store.
He had his eye on several specials, including a selection of cycling paraphernalia.
"I'm going to get shorts, shirts, socks, gloves, pump, the works. They are good," he said.
"They're good value. I'd love to buy shares but it's a family company, so what can I do? I'll be here all the time shopping.
"Lismore won't see me - I won't have to climb those steps anymore."
Security guard Nathan Hanlon said he was "amazed" at the opening.
"I didn't think it was going to be like this at all, it's the first time I've done an opening," he said.
"When Bob showed up I said 'mate, I think your watch is wrong, its seven o'clock," ... he said, 'I know', and he was closely followed by another dozen people soon after and now it's turned into this," Mr Hanlon said pointing to the crowd.
"We're actually having trouble now people are asking what are they going to do to park."
Mum of five Melissa Ackland came with her son Hayden to snap up a couple of $200 televisions from the special buy section, but got into Aldi for the cheap groceries.
"We're a family of seven so it's a lot cheaper, it cut our bill down by half basically," Mrs Ackland said.
"We buy everything from Aldi apart from guinea pig food."
Aldi now commands 10% of national grocery sales and has close to 500 stores nationally despite only opening its first store in 2001.
It still trails Coles and Woolworths, who together account for 72.5% of the market, but has eclipsed IGA as the clear third force.