PITTSBURGH (KDKA)- Bottom Dollar customers were not happy to hear that their discount grocery store was closing by the end of December.

“I’m sad. We save a lot of money here,” Nicki Kuhn, a regular Bottom Dollar shopper. “My monthly shopping bill, I can cut a third off by shopping here.”

“I’m disappointed,” noted Debra Ignelzi, another Bottom Dollar shopper. “I love shopping here. The prices are so good, and they carry things I really like.”

But the Delhaize Group that owns 66 Bottom Dollar stores, including the 20 in the Pittsburgh area, wanted to get out of the discount grocery business, so it will sell its stores to Aldi by the end of next March.

And Bottom Dollar will close its doors by New Year’s Day.

Point Park University business professor Elaine Luther says Aldi’s playing it smart.

“It’s like the best move in Risk or Monopoly,” Luther told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

Luther says Aldi is eliminating the competition.

“They saw Bottom Dollar as their number one competition, and they’ve really done a double thing,” said Luther. “They’ve took them out of business, but they also bought the property which is very specific to a grocery store, so they’ve blocked the move of anyone else coming in those locations.”

Aldi says they are buying only the buildings, the empty stores, not the Bottom Dollar operations or its personnel. But that leaves open the possibility that it could reopen Bottom Dollar stores as an Aldi sometime this spring.

In a statement, Aldi says it plans to open 650 new stores across the country, creating more than 10,000 new jobs.

But whether those new stores will be in Pittsburgh at old Bottom Dollar stores is uncertain.

“We’ve shopped at Aldi’s, but I prefer Bottom Dollar,” said Lauri Stuchell, a Bottom Dollar fan.

Along McKnight Road in the North Hills, shoppers have three discount grocery stores within a half mile — Bottom Dollar, Good Sense, and Aldi — each fighting for the consumer dollar through lower prices.

“We shop here a lot. Between this one and the one next door, we shop a lot,” noted Mary Petitt of Reserve.

It’s a common refrain, but now the Delhaize Group that owns 20 Bottom Dollar stores in this region says it wants to get out of the discount grocery business — so it’s shutting its Bottom Dollar stores at the end of the year

Luther says the discount grocery business is increasingly competitive with chains like Walmart and Target making a play.

Aldi says it will be open 650 new stores over the next few years and will need employees.

“If I was a worker at Bottom Dollar, I’d be applying at Aldi this afternoon,” said Luther.

Aldi won’t say, but Luther thinks some of the old Bottom Dollar locations might become Aldi stores, and given all the competition that remains, she’s not worried about food prices.

“If Aldi is buying in bigger bulk and to deliver, maybe they can maintain those low prices,” she said.

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