Aldi Supermarkets

There’s a new supermarket in town, and it’s called Aldi. Originally established in Germany, Aldi offers a unique shopping experience for the American consumer.

The first difference you’ll notice when you approach the store is the shopping cart system. Aldi, like many European stores, requires a coin to be inserted into the shopping cart in order to unlock it from the carts it’s attached to. You get your coin back when you return the cart to the stall and attach it back to the other carts. This system encourages customers to return their carts instead of leaving them helter-skelter in the parking lot. I love this because it not only teaches responsibility to lazy shoppers, it also keeps random shopping carts from taking up room in parking spaces and/or running into parked cars after getting carried away by wind. This also means there’s little-to-no need to hire extra personnel to retrieve shopping carts from the parking lot, which means lower prices in the store.

Speaking of lower prices, Aldi has them. Aldi’s production and packaging system works much like Trader Joes does: they work out a deal with larger food manufacturers to take the less-than-perfect but still good merchandise, repackage it in the Aldi brand, and put a significantly lower pricetag on it. Some items (like their version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch) taste so similar to the original that it’s worth going to Aldi for. Others (like their version of Pop Tarts), just don’t make the cut, in my opinion, so I’d rather pay the higher price for the real deal. This may mean shopping at a few different stores to get all the items you like at the prices you want to pay, and you may not have time for that. I personally only go to Aldi every couple of months, and when I’m there I stock up on the less-expensive items that I can only get there.

And now, the check-out system. If you want bags for your items, you have to pay a few cents for each of them. This reduces unnecessary waste as a lot of people will bring their own re-usable bags or just put their individual items in their car. You also bag your groceries (or put them back in your cart) yourself, rather than there being a designated bagger (another reason prices are lower here–fewer employees).

All in all, if you’re willing to do a few things yourself to get a good deal on groceries and some household items, Aldi is a good option. If you have one coming to a town near you, give it a try!