The wait is almost over for bargain-hunting Southern California shoppers.

Extreme discounter Aldi – which is expected to shake up the local supermarket scene – said it would open its first eight California locations March 24.

None of the three stores planned for Orange County are among the initial openings, which are slated for Beaumont, Fontana, La Quinta, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, Palm Springs, San Bernardino and Yucaipa.

The chain, whose 1,400 stores are concentrated in 32 East Coast, Midwest and Southern states, said its first 25 California stores would open between March and July. Overall, Aldi plans to open 45 stores in California this year. Orange County stores will be in Fountain Valley, Buena Park and Anaheim. The company declined to say when they will open.

Aldi, which has family ties to Trader Joe’s, claims to save shoppers up to 50 percent on their grocery bills by selling knockoffs of the 1,300 most frequently bought national brands. The company stands by its knockoffs and offers a “double guarantee,” which replaces the product and refunds customers’ money if they are not completely satisfied.

Gordon Nesbit, a Moreno Valley division vice president with Aldi, said there’s “a strong appetite among Southern Californians for an alternative place to shop.”

“We are eager to show them the significant benefits that can come from shopping at Aldi, both for their wallets and lifestyles,” he said in a statement.

Stores are small and similar in size to Fresh & Easy. After the cash-only checkout, shoppers shift to a long counter to bag their groceries. The company says the checkout strategy keeps the lines at the registers moving.

Aldi requires shoppers to pay a 25-cent refundable deposit for a cart. Customers must bring their own bags or buy store-brand reusable bags. Aldi is testing a credit card program that, if successful, would be rolled out to all stores.

The grand openings at each store will be held over three days, starting at 8:45 a.m. March 24. California stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Source: Orange County Register