Aldi site

GEMCAP Development of Winston-Salem, is seeking a Special Use Permit approval to build an Aldi grocery store at this site next to the Sheets on N.C. 86 in Hillsborough.

It looks like Hillsborough is potentially getting a new grocery store. Winston-Salem-based GEMCAP Development has submitted plans to build an Aldi grocery store on 2.66 acres of land at N.C. 86, next to the Sheets complex. GEMCAP’s plan is going through the Special Use Permit process, and could see changes, as it seeks approval from the Hillsborough Board of Adjustment. A remote quasi-judicial hearing about the proposal — Hillsborough Aldi — will be held Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. The property is currently vacant and zoned Entranceway Special Use (ESU). If the proposal receives Special Use Permit (SUP) approval, the site use would be retail sales. 

Paul Williams, COO and executive vice president at GEMCAP, confirmed the project is for Aldi. As it stands, the developer’s plan indicates a 19,000-square-foot building that would face N.C. 86, and provide 96 parking spaces, including four spaces for curbside delivery. Hillsborough’s Unified Development Ordinance states a maxim of 80 parking spaces for a project of this size. The site plan also includes three loading spaces, and an area for future expansion. 

“We’re working with the Town on these requests, but it will come down to the Board of Adjustment’s decision on the waiver requests,” Williams of GEMCAP said through an email.

Aldi is a privately-held German company with more than 2,100 stores in 37 states, and had planned to open up to 100 additional locations this year. The proposed site in Hillsborough would be the grocer’s first in Orange County. Its U.S. headquarters is in Batavia, Illinois. According to its website, Aldi employs more than 25,000 people nationwide.

Aldi stores are small, often less than 20,000 square feet, compared with 40,000+ square feet for the typical grocery store. The grocer carries a narrower selection of products, but places a heavy emphasis on store brands, with often up to 90 percent of Aldi exclusives. 

The smaller store size and more limited selection has earned fans by making shopping at Aldi what it believes is a money-saving and time-saving experience. Stores avoid non-essential services like banking, pharmacies and check cashing in hopes of extending savings to its customers.

The store is well-known for charging a quarter to unlock shopping carts for use. When the cart is returned to its assigned place, the quarter is refunded. This is one method the store has tried to create savings by eliminating the need for having employees round up carts left in the far reaches of the parking lot.  Aldi also requires shoppers to bring their own bags or purchase them at checkout.

Calls to Weber Shandwick, Aldi’s media representative, were not returned.