A parking lot full of cars and a line of customers stretching around the building reflected the level of interest in a new ALDI that opened Thursday in Lakeland, marking the second grocery store in the suburb.

The grand opening at 9970 U.S. 64, just east of Canada Road, culminated a recruitment of the business by Lakeland officials, an effort that included a land donation to keep the store — and its sales tax revenue — in Lakeland rather than the company venturing across the border into Memphis.

The 19,000-square-foot building includes more than 12,000 square feet of selling space.

“It’s larger than our older prototype that we had a few years ago,” Scott Martsolf, ALDI director of real estate, said. “We build them now with all environmentally friendly materials, and we build the buildings to last and sustain. From a refrigeration standpoint, we focus on keeping the utility costs low.”

The opening of the new store creates approximately 22 to 24 new jobs and fills a much-needed gap geographically for the chain, with the closest ALDI locations being in Bartlett and Cordova. The only other grocery in Lakeland is Sprouts, farther west on U.S. 64, a former Kroger. That store moved across the highway into Memphis several years ago putting a substantial dent in Lakeland’s sales tax revenue.

Former Lakeland Vice Mayor Josh Roman and Dexter Muller, the suburb’s economic development specialist, wanted to make sure they didn’t lose another strong business to Memphis. But ALDI representatives initially were leaning to Memphis sites because the properties were more affordable.

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