Get all the latest Aruba news in the Visit Aruba app for iOS and Android.

Shop till you drop – at the new improved Ling & Sons

Almost one year ago I reported that Ling & Sons approached a top local contractor, Albo, to do the building, design, permits, in short, the works, for a new-age food emporium, at the back of the store’s existing location. 

Ling’s first Chinese Grocery was opened by the family in the early sixties. Years later, the Lings moved from San Nicolas to Oranjestad and spent perhaps 30 years on Weststraat, in a grocery store which was quite modern at the time, featuring the revolutionary self-service concept. In 1992, the family uprooted and settled in Eagle, opening a giant Food Center with over 70 employees. It was a quantum leap, as the relatively small family-business repositioned itself below the tourist strip, serving both locals and visitors. The then-new Ling & Sons with its own modern bakery, nice butcher shop and deli counter was considered state-of-the-art. Move over. Another revolution is happening, a bigger store, with prepared food, and even handicapped-friendly toilets.

Ling + Sons Food EmporiumThis week - the invitations were delivered yesterday - Ling & Sons is preparing for its Grand Opening, March 20th. Plans call for a parking lot party, with a street festival atmosphere; then his Excellency the island’s Governor and the Prime Minister will tour the mega-store with invited dignitaries trailing right behind them. At the end of that tour, the store will close to allow the transfer and hook up of all cash registers. The following day, the new/improved Ling & Sons will be open for business.

In just 365 days developer Clifton Ling wrapped up the financing stage, the planning, design, lay out and purchasing and presented the Aruban community with an update, an upgrade on grocery shopping for the new millennium.

So, what’s new? A golf cart will be crisscrossing the parking lot offering rides to those stationed at a distance. There will be no doors, just an air-curtain to signify very easy access and the willingness to serve; Customer Service at the entrance enjoys a prime location indicating the family will continue to nurture strong personal ties with the consumer. A free coffee corner, perhaps in the near future ever an internet station; a fresh and cute flower shop; a sandwich shop for light breakfasts and lunch take-outs, the features are endless. Bigger is undoubtedly better. The food center boasts, modern friendly signage, large, easy to maneuver carts and endless rows for groceries, heavy on the gourmet and specialty items.

Clifton Ling managed to spend 16-million-florins, in just under a year delivering an innovative food emporium which is two and a half times bigger than its predecessor. Asked about his decision to invest additional funds in his business, the second generation grocer reports making the move before his competitors make it. Today’s market dictates growth, he states. A more educated, well traveled consumer says his wife Ingrid – she is always at the heart of guest services - is more demanding and very knowledgeable.  At the recent topping of the roof, celebrating construction’s highest point, the island’s Prime Minister had already the pleasure of delivering a speech, his second, he said. He was the also guest of honor a decade ago, when the smaller building’s ribbon was cut, for the first Food-Center. Nelson Oduber will be again guest of honor for the inaugural ceremony on the 20th.

Other family members – my team, Clifton says, are Clifton’s sister Yolanda, and her beautiful daughter. Yolanda is in charge of the opening festivities, in addition to a slew of other activities already on her plate.

In preparation for opening, quite a few Americans arrived to help stock and display. The representatives of US purveyors were impressed with the level of knowledge the locals exhibited, with their drive and dedication. The long-term employees of Ling & Sons have rolled up their sleeves and have already stocked all frozen goods, including ice creams, and dry good. Next week, just before opening the doors to the first consumer the Dairy shelves will be filled. The way merchandise was placed and the meticulous attention to detail attests to the fact that Ling & Sons has done its best to woo consumers and bring them back in hordes. Good luck, we’re looking forward to a wonderful party. We’re ready to shop till we drop.

Read more news