ALDI openings will offer relief in Wilmington job market, but not yet

"I started at $7.75 and when I left four years later I was at $8.95. It's hard in Wilmington."

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The hiring event at the Marriot SpringHill Suites. (Photo by Benjamin Schachtman)

WILMINGTON – At the latest hiring event for ALDI, applicants were promised higher pay and medical benefits. But they were also told they might have to wait or travel for employment, at least for a while.

The German-owned grocery store held its second hiring event in the Wilmington area on Tuesday, Jan 31. ALDI representatives reviewed applications for three stores, two in Wilmington and another in Leland.

The major draw? Higher pay.

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Nicolas Stauble, leaving the hiring event. “I was really excited about it when I heard about it. I couldn’t wait to come see what it was all about.” (Photo Benjamin Schachtman)

Nicholas Stauble, a Wilmington resident who said he had worked in the grocery industry for more than five years, was drawn by advertisements of competitive salaries.

“I’ve worked in grocery stores for a long time,” Stauble said. “I love it. And I think I excel at it. But it can be hard to get ahead.”

Stauble said he’d worked at a Harris Teeter in Wilmington for four years.

“I started at $7.75 and when I left four years later I was at $8.95. It’s hard in Wilmington,” he said. “I helped run the produce department, but I was cross-trained in all the other departments.”

An Aldi representative confirmed that ALDI is hiring ‘Store Associate’ positions starting at $11.35. Stauble said, “That’s a great wage, compared to where I was. I did ask for $13, because I’ve got the experience.”

ALDI Salisbury Division Vice President Krysta Cearley told Port City Daily that ALDI strives to be the market leader in both wages and compensation. Cearley said ALDI was one of the first grocers in the United States to over full health insurance for employees, even when they worked less than 40 hours per week.

While the Wilmington area ALDI stores will pay more than other local grocers, they are still early in the construction phases. Hiring representatives at Tuesday’s event asked applicants if they would be willing to work at a Jacksonville location until local stores open.

Ground has been broken at two Wilmington area locations – at Waltmoor Road and S. College Road, and in Porter’s Neck at Marsh Oaks Drive and Market St. – and is expected to begin in Leland soon. According to Cearley, these stores are still scheduled to open in summer of 2017.

A third store, in Leland, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017, Cearley said.

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The construction site at the future ALDI location in Porter’s Neck. ALDI plans to have the store open by this summer. (Photo by Benjamin Schachtman)

Stauble said he would have to consider whether traveling would be an option. David Keener, who also applied for a job at Tuesday’s event, said he was definitely willing to do travel, at least short-term.

“To get my foot in the door? It’s worth it,” Keener said. “I might have to crash with some buddies in Jacksonville for a while. But, even if I drove, it’s like an hour. That’s not great, but what I’m making now isn’t great either.”

Keener said he preferred not to mention where he works currently, but that his hourly wage was “painfully low,” even after working for several years.

Keener added, “I’ve worked at a couple of grocery stores around town. The money was OK, at first, I guess. But I didn’t get many raises, and when I did, I couldn’t get full time. ALDI offers benefits, which is … crazy. You don’t see that a lot.”