All Over ALDI
Now Jane and Sandee do not despise grocery shopping nearly as much as I do (It’s only one step above ironing pleated pants, as far as I’m concerned), so they were eager to go to the store to see how it compared to stores like Kroger and Publix. I, on the other hand, had heard from co-workers that it really was cheaper than more mainstream stores, and since I’m on a very tight budget, I was willing to check it out.
So the three of us drove over to the one nearest my house (about 1.5 miles away…not too bad). We went in without a cart, because we were not intending to buy anything. What we didn’t know was that you have to deposit $.25 to unlock a cart from the chain, then return the cart to the chain to get the money back. This “bring it back to get your money back” method keeps carts from littering the parking lot, as well as needing to hire people to gather them up. (Good idea #1)
First impression of the store itself… it’s small. Not a whole lot bigger than the small Piggly Wiggly I used to be dragged to once a week with my mom, growing up in Tallassee. (Side note: I used to be scared to walk by the area with “Red Devil Lye.” It had a picture of a red devil head on it that scared the bejeesus out of me as a little kid.)
From what I read, the store stocks about 1,400 different items, as opposed to the more than 40,000 items the bigger stores stock. So if you’re looking for exotic ethnic foods, or if you need 10 different varieties of grapes, you’re not gonna find it here. They offer the basic staples, and that savings on spaces allows for a much smaller building translating into lower overhead. (Good idea #2)
The trip down the first aisle (plenty wide and very clean) was not that impressive, as it was mostly junk food, which all of us are trying to avoid in an effort to be healthy. So we didn’t really pay attention to the prices. However, I did notice that the items were stocked in their boxes, not on shelves, so there’s no need to pay someone for stocking shelves. (Good idea #3). The prices were clearly marked above each item… helpful to someone like me who has trouble reading small type.
Sandee’s first spotting of a good bargain was a bottle of EVOO. It was approx. 50% less than what she would have paid elsewhere. Now granted, most of the products in the store are not nationally recognized brands, but most are the ALDI brand, which has the “Double Guarantee.” If you don’t like their product, you can take it back and get a replacement AND a refund. (Good idea #4) From everything I’ve read, their items are made by well-known makers like Campbells and Kraft, they just sell it under a different brand name. More on the items I got later.
We were most impressed with the cost of the milk…$1.79. What bothered me was that they didn’t sell half-gallons. But I went ahead and got the gallon. I need to drink more anyway, and hopefully, trying not to waste the gallon will help with that.
They had a large choice of meat that was really decently priced and “looked” good. The cuts were generous portions and appeared to be fresh. They also had a large choice of processed meats as well. None of us purchased any meats, but I will go back and do that.
I bought one can of chili, because I’m picky about my chili, so if it’s good, I’m excited, because while I know it was a good price, I can’t remember the price. I bought a four-pack of toilet paper (not as soft as Angel Soft, but not too bad either) for $1.00. Jane got a loaf of honey wheat bread for $1.29, and we all tried it when we got home. It was just fine, compared to Nature’s Own, my favorite.
We didn’t really loiter and look at every item, but I did notice the selection of fruits and vegetables was minimal. What was there looked fresh, but there just wasn’t that much of it. They also have select items on sale every week that are not there all the time, mostly non-food items.
Anyway, we got up to the checkout, and found out they don’t take checks nor credit cards (which none of us were planning to use anyway), but only cash and debit cards. That way, they do not have to recoup the cost of using credit systems nor chasing bad checks (Good idea #5).
None of us noticed that they sell their grocery bags at a minimal price, but we didn’t have enough to need bags anyway. This keeps them from having to cover the cost of bags, and also encourages people to bring their own bags (Good idea #6… and “green” too). No baggers either… no cost for laborers.
Anyway, I’m totally sold on it as long as the items I get there are decent. I am a “brand name” person on a few things… QTips being one of them… so if they products are anywhere close to brand names, the cost difference will soooo be worth it.
If there’s an ALDI near you, give it a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. (Good idea #7)