It took a while, but a new Aldi supermarket has opened in the west of Cheltenham after a long planning process.
When the doors were flung open to the first customers at the Grovefield Way store on October 21, it was a game-changing moment for me and my family.
No more having to drive from our Up Hatherley home to the Hucclecote store near Gloucester, of the Aldi off Tewkesbury Road to the north west of Cheltenham.
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Now, with quite a few weekly shops under my belt, here are the five things I absolutely love about the new store – ranging from the trolleys, the parking and the new checkouts.
The chiller doors
As someone who, for family reasons, often goes to Hungary, it’s always been a mystery to me that walking through British supermarkets takes you through different climatic zones
From the warm blow of the heating as you walk in, to the icy passage through the chiller cabinets as all that cold air is pumped out – unlike in the Hungarian supermarkets which have doors to keep the cold in.
This new Aldi store has proper doors on its chilled cabinets – which has to be good for the environment and good for the shopper who doesn’t have to dress for winter when buying mince and dress for summer when buying bread.
The grey plastic-style trolleys seem a lot more civilised than the wire-framed ones we are used to.
They are lightweight, easy to move (even when laded down with £80 of family shopping), and if you accidentally let them roll into your car, there is less likely to be damage.
It makes for a smoother ride through the aisles.
This is a real change and I’ve never seen them in any Aldi I have been to from Gloucestershire, to the Isle of Wight.
Whereas Aldi checkouts are renowned for small amount of space for the cashier to put your shopping – to encourage packing at the shelves – these have a little bit more room.
And, in what seems a major philosophical departure, there is a divider so if the customer ahead of you has their shopping piled up, the divider can push their shopping to one side and leave space for your shopping.
Aldi car parks can test the driving skills of the most advanced drivers – the Tewkesbury Road branch makes you feel as if you need to take a deep breath as you squeeze your car into a space.
But the new Cheltenham one has plenty of parking, with clear sections for those with disabilities and those with children.
The aisle of wonder
Of course, no Aldi is complete without that central aisle of Specialbuys, which has plenty of things you had never thought you needed but which seem essential to your life when you see them.
There is always something for everyone – from toys, books, clothing and products for the home.
This new Aldi has two main rivals nearby – the Asda in Hatherley Lane is just half-a-mile away. The Morrisons, in Caernarvon Road, Up Hatherley, is two miles away.
Asda has all the advantages of a bigger store – a huge car park, massive range of goods, and still seems to be busy whenever we have been there.
Morrisons, again has more choice, and is currently undergoing a major improvement that has coincided with the opening of the new Aldi down the road.
And as I left the store on my most recent shops, two people were chatting away about how they had recently switched from one of the major supermarkets and the Aldi products had gone down well with their families.
The game is on in the local supermarket wars.
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