by Terrie Ellerbee/editor-Southwest
Stores of all stripes are downsizing, including grocery and department stores. Some are shrinking and offering the extra space to other types of retail formats. The relationship between Kohl’s and Aldi is a case in point.
In March of last year, Kohl’s announced a partnership with Aldi, the German grocer, to sublet space inside its department stores. There were to be 10 test locations where Kohl’s would downsize its store and lease the extra space to Aldi. When the announcement was made, neither Kohl’s nor Aldi would say where they would be located.
The Shelby Report has learned that a permit was filed with the City of Abilene in December for a remodel of the Kohl’s at 4757 Southwest Drive. It is unclear whether that is one of those 10 test stores, and Aldi Denton Division VP Scott Huska declined to say.
“At this time, we are unable to share any details regarding the Abilene store opening. When it comes to choosing store locations, we look at many factors. We want the best sites that are closest to our shoppers and can support a high daily traffic volume. As the demand for Aldi grows, so do our real estate options. Bottom line, we want to be conveniently located for our shoppers,” Huska said in an emailed statement to The Shelby Report. “Everyone needs high-quality food and products at affordable prices. Clearly, location is crucial to our expansion, and we look at a variety of factors. We are opening and remodeling Aldi stores in every type of neighborhood across the country. We have a strong presence in cities, suburbs and rural communities. Aldi does not have any additional details to disclose at this time.”
In areas where the Aldi/Kohl’s partnership has moved forward, such as Waukesha, Wisconsin, Aldi will lease space from Kohl’s and the two retailers will operate independently.
Aldi opened its first U.S. store in Iowa in 1976 and has headquarters in Batavia, Illinois. Today it operates more than 1,600 stores in 35 states, and it plans to expand to 2,500 locations in the U.S. by the end of 2022.
Meanwhile, a combination restaurant and food market chain that is based in Tuttle, Oklahoma, has expressed interest and, in some cases, has purchased property in West Texas. Braum’s restaurant chain offers not only ice cream, frozen yogurt, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads and breakfast items, but its locations also have a grocery section called the “Fresh Market” featuring dairy products, baked goods, beverages, frozen entrees, meats and produce. It offers hundreds of products that it says are most requested by customers and fresh produce is delivered every other day.
Several Lubbock-area media outlets reported in January of 2018 that Braum’s would be opening two locations in Lubbock: one at 128th Street and Indiana Avenue and the other at 83rd Street and University Avenue. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that Braum’s also is interested in property at 503 Highway 114 in Levelland.
In January of this year, Braum’s filed an application for a sign variance near Buffalo Gap Road and FM 707 in Abilene. No site plans had been submitted as of Jan. 22, according to the City of Abilene.
A more traditional grocer, H-E-B, appears to have plans for Abilene as well. In September, ABC affiliate KTXS reported that two existing buildings on property owned by the grocer at 6301 and 6381 Buffalo Gap Road would be demolished. H-E-B at the time said the timeframe for a new store was unknown.