If you haven’t read my post on the 31 Days Writing Challenge, no worries, you can catch up. I’ll be writing about Aldi every day in October.
Find out if you have an Aldi near you before we get started.
Aldi isn’t like every other grocery store. They are special in so many ways. But first, let’s discuss Aldi basics, shall we?
The Carts <—–
Get your quarters ready! The carts are located outside the store. You put your quarter in and it “releases” the cart for you. Then after you shop you have to put the cart back and voila! You get your quarter back. Does that seem weird? Maybe at first. But it’s actually awesome. Because unlike every other store parking lot there are not random grocery carts haphazardly blocking you from getting the spot you want (that’s happened to you too, right?). Another nifty thing that this brings about is friendliness. Yes! Someone who needs a cart will often give you their quarter and take your empty cart from you when you’re done so you don’t have to walk to take it back. Then you say “thank you so much” with a smile and you realize you’ve just had a positive human interaction! Amazing!
The Aisles <—–
Let’s get this out of the way now, mkay? Aldi is not a fancy schmancy store. Each store seems to be set up a little bit different but none of the Aldi stores I have been to have advanced shelving. A lot of times, the items are still stacked in cardboard boxes. I bend down a lot more and pick up boxes to get what I want underneath. But it’s the simplicity of the store that helps keep costs so low. It is still organized and clean. You can always expect that.
The Choices <—–
Aldi stocks its own brand of foods. They sometimes carry name brands but it is never the same. For instance, I have been able to get name brand Cheerios and Kraft Mac&Cheese. But I never count on them being available. Instead, after shopping there a few times, I familiarized myself with THEIR labels. And after a bit of research (I was a journalist major, afterall) I have uncovered that many of the labels stocked in the stores are actually exactly the same thing as name brands. They are even manufactured in the same factories but have different branding and packaging. One rumor is that the chicken is Tyson, the ketchup is Heinz and the bread is Sara Lee. I can only validate it with my tastebuds. But I can’t tell the difference.
The Hours <—–
Another way Aldi keeps its costs so low is by being open less hours. They aren’t a 24-hour grocery store (although I totally wish they were!). So you need to plan accordingly. At my Aldi, they open at 9 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Their weekend hours are even less. How does that save me money? Well, they don’t have to pay to employ as much staff and pay the electricty/AC bills if the store is closed and that helps my food costs stay low. This also allows Aldi to pay their staff well during the hours that they open. For the past four years I have been going to the same Aldi and there are STILL the same employees there. That tells me that they actually like their jobs and are being treated well.
The Bags <—–
Aldi doesn’t provide free bags for your groceries. And they don’t have baggers either. Wait, what? HOW DARE THEY!!! I know, right? How dare they not provide a million plastic bags that are one of the WORST offenders of trash and pollution in the world. Here’s an idea – bring your own. Save the earth. Reuse. Recycle. Yep, I’m one of those dreaded tree huggers. But apparently, so is Aldi. ((((tree hugs))))
The Check Out <—–
Aldi does not accept credit cards. Why? Well, because credit cards charge the store a fee with every swipe. Aldi says – heck no! We’re not going to pay your fee! Instead we’re going to ask our customers to use cash or a debit card and their groceries won’t cost them an arm and a leg.
Something else to note – the employees checking you out are lightning fast! The first time you see them do it you will watch in awe. Then any time you go to another grocery store you will be totally annoyed that it takes the checker ten minutes to swipe your twelve items.
Also, secret Aldi-etiquette says that if you have a full cart and someone behind you has only a few items you let them go ahead of you in line. So nice, right? Pay it forward. I bet you didn’t know that shopping at Aldi teaches you to be kind to other people, did you?
So what did I miss? If you have any Aldi basics that you feel I didn’t cover please put them in the comments!