Early birds queue up for today's opening of Shrewsbury's big new Aldi store
Fears of traffic chaos failed to materialise during the opening of a much-anticipated new Aldi store on the outskirts of Shrewsbury.
The car park at the new store close to the town's giant Battlefield island was almost as well-filled as the shelves of the discount retailer's aisles for an eager queue of around 50 people at 8am on Thursday.
There were also no signs of shortages on the first day at the shop that has replaced a smaller outlet in Arlington Way, which closed at 10pm on Wednesday taking members of staff with it.
First in the queue was Deborah Wheeler, 51, who was there mainly to tick an item off the bucket list she made for herself on her 50th birthday.
"It's a bucket list thing for me and could have been any supermarket," said Deborah, who also plans to swim with sharks.
Deborah pipped Brian Forbes, 46, who was second in line to enter the store.
"I came along because I was intrigued to see what it would be like and to pick up a couple of things. I am a regular Aldi shopper and used the old store in Arlington Way. I am glad this one is open."
The store was officially opened by manager Robert Birch and Team GB Olympic silver medallist Victoria Thornley who won her medal in the women's double scull at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Katherine Grainger. Victoria represented Team GB at three Olympic Games over an 11-year career.
Victoria spends most weeks now in Shropshire, helping her parents run Woodland Park Lodges in Ellesmere.
Among the first to leave the store with full baskets were Anna Kosalka and eight-year-old Filip Kosalka, who lived so close to Arlington Way that Filip could just nip across the road.
"It looked very new," said Filip. "I'm surprised that they have self-checkouts and more products."
The self-checkouts, believed to be the first of their type in an Aldi store in the county town, have been controversial among some shoppers who believe they put people's jobs at risk.
But Anne-Marie Brettell, of Shrewsbury, was happy to see the automatic checkouts as they mean she can nip in and out on her lunch break from nearby property specialists Halls.
"I'm a regular Aldi shopper and I think it's brilliant that they have them," she said as she dashed off to work.
Also impressed were Ron, aged 79, and Norma Offland, 81, who were there for a top-up shop and for a look around.
"It's cheaper in this supermarket compared to the others," said Ron.
Aldi Battlefield Road has also offered pupils at a nearby primary school the opportunity to win a £20 gift voucher to spend at the new store. Children at Harlescott Junior School have been tasked with creating a poster to show what healthy eating means to them.
Store manager Robert Birch said: “It was lovely to welcome our new customers into store, and I look forward to meeting more of the community in the coming weeks. I’m also thrilled that we’ve been able to support Harlescott Junior School through our partnership with Team GB.”
Team GB star Victoria Thornley added: “I am looking forward to speaking with the children at Harlescott Junior School about the importance of eating healthily and how it can be fun to plan and prepare meals as a family. Hopefully I will also manage to inspire the pupils to keep active and try different sports.”