Large crowds were on hand for the grand opening Thursday morning at the new ALDI grocery store, 2551 Lusk Dr., Neosho.

Large crowds were on hand for the grand opening Thursday morning at the new ALDI grocery store, 2551 Lusk Dr., Neosho.
ALDI opened at 8:30 a.m. following an official ribbon cutting which included a welcome and presentation from the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce to Neosho's newest grocery store. Customers lined up early, some before dawn, in a queue that trailed along the building and doubled back more than once by the time the doors opened for business. The first customer in line arrived at 5:15 a.m. The parking lot also filled up quickly. Overflow shoppers parked along Lusk Drive and in adjacent areas and walked over to join the line that formed to shop at ALDI.
The first 100 customers in line were rewarded for their patience with golden tickets, which were redeemed for gift cards in various dominations.
Most customers wore smiles as they entered the store for the first time. Customers also received a free reusable eco-friendly shopping bag and words of welcome from ALDI staff members.
"We're glad to be in town," Neosho ALDI manager Jason Culbertson said. "We want to give our Neosho customers a great shopping experience."
Other Aldi staff on hand for the grand opening included Ryan Stemmons, Director of Real Estate for the Olathe Division of ALDI and Kourtney Pace, ALDI District Manager.
Prior to the opening, Mike Franks of Grow Neosho presented Culbertson with a Grow Neosho award for coming into the community.
"One of the biggest points of retail loss (to other communities) has been in the grocery area," Franks said as he presented them with the award. "Aldi adds to the local options and keeps more retail business in the community."
"It's been the most anticipated store opening since I've been with the Chamber," Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lauri Lyerla said at the opening ceremony. "I've been here 16 years."
"We have had so many phone calls about when this was opening," Travis McClellan, also with the Neosho Chamber of Commerce said. "People have been excited for it."
ALDI in Neosho features a modern design. New ALDI stores will have the same design and older locations are being remodeled to have the same features which include open ceilings, wide aisles, LED lighting and energy-saving refrigeration.
Two of the early bird shoppers were Carolyn and Fred Bukowich of Neosho, who arrived at 6:15 a.m. on Thursday with coffee in hand.
"I've waited 16 years for it (ALDI) to get here," Carolyn Bukowich said as she shopped the new store. "I've had to go to Joplin to shop ALDI. I'm glad I can shop at ALDI in Neosho."
The Bukowichs were among the first customers to enter the store and received one of the tickets  that was exchanged for a gift card. As they pushed their shopping cart through the aisles, they made many selections, familiar with the ALDI exclusive brands.
Shoppers of all ages filled the store's aisles as they filled their shopping carts, compared prices and admired the wide selection of available products. "It's like Christmas morning," one unnamed shopper exclaimed.
ALDI offers an extensive produce department, a fresh meat case, a variety of gluten free products, baby products including formula, diapers, wipes, and food. 90% of the products sold are ALDI exclusive brands.
A sign on one wall proclaims 'Welcome to your Neosho ALDI', providing a local and personal touch.
ALDI is located near the intersection of Highway 60 and Business 49.
Store hours will be daily from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. They accept cash, VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
For more information about ALDI, visit the ALDI USA page on Facebook or visit the Simply Smarter Living Blog at ALDI also has an online presence on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.