Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
Longtime patrons of the small shopping center on Navajo Road just off of state Route 125 are pretty used to seeing businesses there open and close, sometimes with little notice.
That’s happening again now, with the opening of an ALDI grocery store where there used to be a short-lived Fresh and Easy market.
The privately held German grocery chain won’t face the stockholders rebellion the British-owned Fresh and Easy did — a rebellion that caused Fresh and Easy to pull out of the U.S. altogether.
Tom Cindel, group operations director at ALDI, says customers will see something very different at the new store.
“What customers will see is a smaller store, with fewer items, a lot of our own private brands that have done well elsewhere. They’ll see a store with wide isles, well-stocked shelves, and the ability to get in, get what you want, and get out,” he said.
A look at the store on opening day, Aug. 30, bears out what Cindel said. Several thousand people passed through the doors that day. Most of them went away happy.
“I just moved here from Chicago a few months ago,” said Linda Turner, one of the many shoppers checking out the new store. “I shopped at ALDI all the time there, and I’m really happy to see this one so close. I’ve always liked them.”
Daniel Duran says he’s looking forward to saving money.
“This place is a lot cheaper than the place I used to shop for groceries, and it has great products. I’ll definitely be back again and again.”
Cindel said this store is exactly the right size, and there are no plans to expand.
If there were expansion plans, all the company would have to do is knock down its western wall, and they could move into the space about to be vacated by Orchard Supply Hardware after only a little more than two years in business.
The OSH, as it’s known, will be gone as of Feb. 1, 2019, or maybe sooner if they manage to sell everything currently available in the store. Everything is for sale.
It’s not just the San Carlos Village location that is shuttering its doors — there are 99 OSH stores nationwide and come Feb. 2, there will be none.
Orchard Supply Hardware will probably go down in history as the worst business decision ever made by Lowe’s, the main competitor to Home Depot. Lowe’s acquired Orchard Supply Hardware in a bankruptcy sale from Sears Holdings, Inc. It had been part of Sears’ efforts to stave off its own serious financial problems, but it worked the other way.
It didn’t take long for the axe to fall.
Marvin Ellison, formerly the top executive at J.C. Penney (which has its own problems), was brought on board to head Lowe’s two months ago.
Among his first moves was to shut down OSH.
“It became clear to me that some strategic decisions were made that should have been made differently,” he said. “OSH was never going to be of benefit to our shareholders, even if it were much larger than it is”.
OSH employees are under orders not to talk to anyone about the closures — especially to reporters, but they’re not happy about it.
Remember the minor hullabaloo when LA Fitness closed several months ago?
It’s being replaced right now.
24-Hour Fitness is rebuilding the old LA facility inside, and they’re planning a Nov. 3 grand opening.
You can’t see inside yet, but if you look over in the corner of the parking lot, near Wendy’s, you will see a person or two sitting under a sunshade, ready, willing and able to sell you a membership at considerably reduced rates.
The changing face of San Carlos Village changes yet again.
You have to wonder what might be next.
—Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at email@example.com.