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Grocery Adventure

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Today was my big expedition to Aldi’s. It is about 14 miles up the highway, a lot of driving with gas at $3 a gallon, but my dear Sis-in-Law (best buddy) has been telling to go to Aldi’s for a couple of years. It’s in a huge mall, so right away it is a hassle for me. I hate malls! And I missed the exit and wasted gas since this mall is way out in the middle of nowhere in Lisbon, CT, and if you miss it, you are in cow country with no wi-fi and no cell service. I made it somehow and the country drive was actually pleasant. Love that cow stink.

Aldi’s is so weird to a newcomer. Everything is in shipping boxes, there is no décor at all, and the shoppers weren’t…friendly. My usual grocery store fellow shoppers seem like they smile more and shop in an organized way. Traffic goes one way and the food is logically arranged.

But at Aldi’s, the traffic goes whichever way the non-smiling patrons point their monster-sized carts. Yikes, no order in the aisles, no “excuse me’s” – just deadpan bargain buyers. The employees seem gloomy, too, and do not look at you. They are sweating to fling the food from one cart to another as fast as possible.

The prices were awesome and are the secret of their success. I found many things that were about half the price I usually pay. Haha, found is the right word, because the store is arranged as though they put the shipping boxes wherever they see space. I could not detect any scheme of organization. They don’t have many name brands or variety in what they have; okay for basics I guess. I didn’t mind packing my own groceries, and the quarter you pay for the cart is returned to you.

So why go there and will I go back? Yes, I will return (and navigate the highway again), and it’s all about the prices. I got some produce and some meat to kind of test if the food is as good as my usual store. They look okay and I got some of their own no-name diet cola. I am thinking of alternating stores so I can get certain name brands and save on the other stuff. My sister-in-law will be happy to know I finally made the Big Trek to Lisbon.


Added later, a link to an excellent article aout why Aldi's is growing so fast

Added more later: I forgot that I went to an Aldi's in Cork, Ireland last fall. I was so starry-eyed at being in Ireland that I didn't notice much or even remember I went there, but now that I think about it, it was pretty much that same as the one today. Read Suzy's comment below -- it is a European experience in essence; maybe my usual store makes me pay for the hype & friendliness with higher prices per item!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Aldi's. And SUZY does sum up the experience well. Every trip there is anew adventure to see what they have!

    153 days ago
    Got to admit -- I don't like grocery shopping, want to get it done as fast as possible and appreciate a little bit of service and not having to "run around" too much. But then I buy pretty much the same stuff over and over because I EAT pretty much the same stuff over and over!!
    154 days ago
    My daughter lives in Athens, Alabama and her roomie loves Aldi! It is a most interesting store.
    154 days ago
    My parents in Illinois shop at Aldi's and send me stuff--most of which I like. I love the Lacura facial care products. There is supposedly a pilot store down in San Francisco (I live at the top of California) and my mother is sure that one will open in Redding soon. but I doubt it. Instead, they are opening a Sprouts, which is much more expensive!
    154 days ago
    I did a story for the paper not long ago, about Lucky's Market and Aldi's coming to town. Figuring you could relate to the Aldi's bit, here it is.

    ‘ALDI does things differentli’

    The true European shopping experience--in Europe--usually means trekking to a local Carrefour, Kaufland, Tesco or Aldi.

    Once there, you insert a coin to release a locked shopping cart, browse aisles crammed with brands that most Americans wouldn’t recognize and pay a relative pittance to a cashier seated comfortably behind the register. You have to purchase bags or bring one, and pack your own groceries.

    This might sound exotic, but it’s all at your local Aldi store, too.

    Already well known across Europe, particularly in its native Germany, the Aldi discount grocery chain continues to spread across the United States. With more than 1,850 stores in 35 states, Aldi plans to reach 2,500 by the end of 2022. In Southwest Florida, there are 10 Aldis between Naples and Sarasota—including Nokomis, North Port, Port Charlotte and the newest local Aldi in Punta Gorda, on Jones Loop Road.

    The secret to Aldi’s low prices? Each store has, at most, four staff onsite per day. No one has shopping cart roundup duty because the carriages aren’t left in the lot. Bags cost 7 cents for paper, 10 cents for plastic, and it’s all bag-your-own.

    “In the 1970s, I lived in Chicago and raised my kids on Aldis. I like shopping here,” said Dolly Cook, shopping at the Punta Gorda store. “Other stores cost a lot more.”

    One first-time Aldi shopper, visiting from New Jersey, came for the Punta Gorda store’s produce.

    “They have Aldis in New Jersey, but I never went,” she said. “This one looked so nice, I had to come in.”

    Every trip is an adventure in a place where you’ve never heard of store brands like SimplyNature organics, Clancy’s Cheese Dip, Winking Owl wines and Southern Grove Trail Mix.

    But, in response to feedback from customers with strong brand preferences, Aldi increasingly carries more national brands like Sun-Maid raisins, Idahoan instant mashed potatoes and Coca-Cola.

    Some customers at the brightly lit new Punta Gorda store, like Bill Dommermuth of Burnt Store Marina, are still getting the hang of the Aldi shopping cart drill, though.

    “This is my first time in here,” said Dommermuth. “I was fine until I ran into this issue with the baskets. I never had to pay for a shopping cart before. And I’m really old.”

    (In the end, he got his quarter back.)

    154 days ago
  • JANEDOE12345
    I suppose that shopping isn't about having a social time. Expecting that the employees be smiley is probably old fashioned of me. I guess the prices are more important...but the ominous air was a bit strange to me.
    154 days ago
  • no profile photo IDAEVE
    Love Aldi’s. Mine is near my other grocery store in town. Shoppers do sort of linger in the entrance where the fresh produce is. Like the great prices! emoticon I agree seems to be half price on many items. The employees are efficient and fast in checking out. They are cheerful at our Aldi’s. Maybe yours can improve on their attitudes.
    154 days ago
    Not a big mall person either. Costco is my big adventure
    154 days ago
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