German grocery chain Lidl strengthened its area presence at the grand opening of its thirteenth Long Island store in Merrick on March 17.
Half an hour before the scheduled opening at 8 a.m., masked and socially distant customers were lining up outside of the new food market at 1686 Merrick Road in the Merrick Commons Shopping Center. The first 100 received a Lidl gift card of $5 to $100.
Nick and Sandy Hunt, a couple from Rockville Centre, had shopped at Lidl in East Meadow and elsewhere. The couple noted that American name brands were not prominent at Lidl stores, but the Lidl brands – and prices – compared very well.
Lori Berger, a board member of the Merrick Chamber of Commerce, described the new store as “very bright and clean,” and noted the Covid-conscious packaging of products such as fresh bakery items: “Nothing is loose on the shelves.”
At the grand opening, Long Island officials commended Lidl’s impact on community well-being.
“We’re delighted that Lidl has come to South Merrick,” Hempstead Town Clerk Kate Murray said. “It really is what we need as we emerge from the pandemic.”
“The store on a regular basis — all their stores, all thirteen of them right now — donate every week to support our neighbors in need who are food insecure,” Paule Pachter, CEO of Long Island Cares, Inc., and the Harry Chapin Food Bank, told the waiting shoppers. At the height of the pandemic, he said, more than 480,000 Long Islanders required food assistance, but the numbers are getting lower. “This could not have been possible without our corporate partners, and Lidl is at the top of the list.”
Nassau County Legislator Steve Rhoads agreed and added that regarding Lidl, “we’re not talking about just building a brand or building a store. Lidl’s interested in helping to build a community.”
“I also want to thank them for coming to the area because it brings local jobs,” Town of Hempstead Councilman Chris Carini said. “It brings help to the local economy.”
“It is crucial that employers pay good starting wages, especially during these hard economic times,” State Sen. John E. Brooks wrote in a statement. “I commend Lidl for raising their starting wage to $16.50 as they continue to expand their services on Long Island, and I welcome them to Merrick.”
The store manager cut the ceremonial ribbon. As customers entered, they were met by wide, clearly marked aisles and well-stocked shelves. Signs and floor markers, in Lidl’s yellow-and-blue theme colors, reminded everyone to maintain social distancing and wear masks.
Lidl Regional Human Resources Director Amanda Cartledge confirmed that Lidl planned to open ten more stores across Long Island. “We took over all of the Best Market stores,” she said, “so we’re in the process of converting all the existing locations into Lidl.” The prior chain had operated 24 stores on Long Island and three in New Jersey.
Lidl in Merrick will be open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.