Every once in a while, something comes along that improves the quality of life in Joplin. The opening last Wednesday of the new Aldi store at 2630 S. McClelland Blvd. certainly has done that for me. What a great store.

The design and layout of this store is different from Joplin's first Aldi store northeast of 20th Street and Range Line Road. This store has a larger entrance-exit area, wider aisles and what appears to be a larger selection of items. The new store, an employee told me, is slightly larger than the first store.

For customer convenience, the new store has concentrated grab-and-go items, such as small salads and dips, near the front door. This store appears to have a larger beer and wine selection.

When I decided to become a regular shopper at Aldi, I invested in one of those durable bags with the Aldi logo on it. It will handle about $20 worth of food depending on what I purchase. The bag eliminates the need for a shopping cart.

Aldi carries more than just fresh produce and a great selection of breads and cheeses. You can also find things there that are useful in your daily lives. I have bought seat cushions for lawn chairs, cooking utensils and an enclosed pop-up gazebo for camping. What a find that was. Like seasonal items, these are one-time offerings. If you find something you like, do not make the mistake of thinking you can come back and get it later. When they're gone, they're gone.

Having shopped at Aldi for a while, I have developed some favorites. If you like soups in the winter, try the hearty German bean soup. I add a little bacon or ham. It's a great value. The pico de gallo is fresh and half the price of what other stores charge.

Check out the whole chickens. Sometimes they have coupons attached to them for $1 off. You can get a whole chicken for $3.

The opening of a new grocery store is always a pretty big deal. But it's more important now than ever before. That's because more than half of U.S. consumers — about 55% — have been eating at home more often since the coronavirus outbreak began, according to a report by Acosta released this summer. The survey found that 44% of the respondents were eating breakfast at home daily, compared with 33% before the pandemic. At-home lunches have increased from 18% to 31%. Eating dinner at home daily has increased from 21% to 33%.

Having a neighborhood market nearby that is convenient and well stocked with the basics makes cooking at home so much easier.

New church

Something new is coming to South Main Street. The Vine Lutheran Church is moving into a storefront at 2722 S. Main St. This space formerly housed a kitchen retail store.

The Vine, according to its pastor, is a new mission church that was established in 2019. The group began by meeting for Wednesday night Bible studies at VAZZO Creative in downtown Joplin.

The Vine is led by pastor Jordan Bence and offers a variety of ministry programs for the whole family, including Sunday worship, Wednesdays in the Word, Bible classes and Mornings With Mommy.

The church is currently remodeling and preparing the building to open the doors for Sunday worship in the next few weeks.

A grand opening celebration is planned for spring 2021.

Closing to remodel

The Wendy's restaurant at 1625 S. Range Line Road has temporarily closed so that the store can be remodeled.

The Range Line Wendy's will be the third restaurant in the Joplin-Webb City franchise to be remodeled with a look that is more modern.

New store

A Big Lots store is coming to the former Toys R Us and Babies R Us storefronts in the North Point Shopping Center at the northwest corner of Seventh Street and Range Line.

Champion Retail Services, based in Porter, Texas, began renovating the storefronts about three weeks ago. Dean Porter, president of the company, said Champion specializes in retail construction and renovation and is working on several projects for Big Lots.

This is not official, but it appears that the Big Lots store at Madison and Cardinal streets in Webb City will continue to operate. Multiple attempts to reach a corporate spokesman to confirm were unsuccessful.

Big Lots offers a large selection of furniture, including bedroom groups, overstuffed chairs, home decor, seasonal items, housewares and groceries.

If you have news about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to wkennedy@joplinglobe.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.

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Wally Kennedy is a reporter and columnist for The Joplin Globe.