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Published: 10:36, 28 November 2019
| Updated: 16:00, 28 November 2019
Shoppers queued for almost two hours not only to be the first inside a brand new Aldi store but also to get their hands on Kevin the Carrot.
People started queuing outside the new supermarket in West Street in Deal at 6.10am.
And although a complimentary bag of fresh fruit and vegetables was on offer to the first 30 through the tills, it was actually the chain's Christmas soft toy range that many were after.
First in line were mother and daughter Lesley Robson-Blundell, 51, from Deal and Becca-Grace Shrader, 22, from Dover.
They came prepared with raincoats and umbrellas and used the time to plan their dash to the soft toy aisle.
Ms Robson-Blundell said: "I've always wanted to be a first shopper but we're also here for Kevin the Carrot.
"It's the first time I've done this and I won't be doing it again.
"I think Deal needed an Aldi. We love it because it's cheap and affordable."
Chris Thompson, 59, from Deal, joined the queue shortly after.
He said: "I'm after Kevin the Carrot for daughter. She's 14 and has autism."
The characters are stars of Aldi's advert and have become increasingly popular since they launched in 2017.
Last year, the batch of Kevin and Katie carrot toys sold out in hours online.
The toys were so in demand that one shopper was caught flogging a £4 Kevin for as much as £500 on eBay in 2018.
The range includes Kevin, Katie, Chantenay, Jasper and Baby. New characters for 2019 are Tiny Tom and Russell Sprout.
The first child in the line was Oceanna Broadhurst who was overjoyed to get her hands on Katie the Carrot. The giant soft toy towered over the six-year-old.
Her mum Samantha Broadhurst started queuing at 7.10am.
She said: "We really want them. We've got all of them from 2017 and 2018."
Sue Walton was also among the queuers accompanied be her medical dog Alfie, who sheltered from the rain in a shopping bag.
A handful of Warden House Primary School pupils joined the Mayor of Deal Eileen Rowbotham and Olympic rower James Foad in a countdown at 8am.
Cllr Rowbotham, who cut the ribbon, said: "It's been a very exciting morning.
"It was lovely to see so many people and children.
"The store is very smart and bigger than I expected it to be.
"It's a welcome addition to Deal. I think we did need an alternative supermarket to give people a choice of where they'd like to shop."
Exclusive offers will continue to run throughout the opening day.
The store will be managed by Julian Baker and has created 37 jobs for local people.
Mr Baker said: “It’s been a fantastic morning here at our grand opening.
"It was lovely to meet our new customers and I look forward to meeting more of the community in the coming weeks. I’d also like to say a big thank you to the wonderful, James Foad, for being a part of our celebrations.”
Team GB star, James Foad added: “It’s been an honour to be a part of Aldi’s store opening.
"I’ve had a great time talking to both the adults and children of Deal about healthy eating and my experience of the Olympics.”
More by this authorEleanor Perkins