This past week, I drove to the next county over to try this place out. One of the blogs I check out all the time, RAVES about Aldi. Kristen, aka The Frugal Girl, LOVES Aldi. She shops there all the time, so I thought I’d check it out and see if it compares to what I do have in my town.
First I will say what tempted me to drive the 35 miles to check it out. Recently in a blog post, she mentioned that she was invited by Aldi to visit their home base and she got to see the inner workings of the business. She describes the treatment of the employees and the measures that the business takes to save the consumer money without sacrificing on quality. This is what tempted me to drive the distance to try it out. Integrity is important to me and if that means traveling 35 miles to support a business that treats people fairly, then I will do so.
The second reason is there are some specialty shops there that I can visit while I’m getting groceries at Aldi’s. So my Mom and my son in tow, we trekked on to check this place out.
My first impression of the store is just how small it is. It TRULY is tiny, however, there was plenty of items that I do use in stock. So I purchased $46 worth of merchandise, including chips, hummus, fish, canned goods, toilet tissue, and produce. This is what I think think of the store. Though the store was small, it was easy for my Mom to shop, which is really important. With her having a torn meniscus in her left knee, too much walking is really painful to her. Second, the products are REALLY easy to find. Their produce was VERY good. I was really impressed with their produce. All of it was crisp and fresh and very well priced. ($1.98 for 2lbs of grapes! HELLO!!)
Though their food is private label and there ARE differences between them and the name brand, for the most part the differences are negligible. So, I wouldn’t be adverse to buying these things again in the future. There’s a store in town that is similar in product, they are still a little pricier than Aldi’s. So this alone isn’t enough to draw me to them. But there IS the first reason to go, integrity.
One of the biggest draws of this store was some of their merchandise that I saw on their website. They are a company with a German heritage and they had a LOT of German type of items there. I bought Mr. W some sweet Bavarian mustard. (I used to live in Augsburg, Germany, and I remember this being the type of mustard offered with bratwurst.) I bought some pre-made pork schnitzel. The schnitzel was ok. It was a good pork patty, but nothing like the “real” thing. But overall it is nice to get something here that reminds me of my childhood.
The things that I don’t like about Aldi are few. First I don’t like that it is so far away. Second, I don’t like how little the selection is, though I’ll add that I understand why it is that way. And I’m unsure if this is the same for all the stores, but this particular store had isled merchandise all the way to the checkout counter, so it made it hard to shop those items when people were waiting to be checked out.
I don’t mind paying the quarter for the cart, you get it back when you return it to the store OR as I found out, someone coming into the store will give you your their quarter for your cart. I don’t mind using my own bags. I prefer to do that anyway. I am just grateful that I have enough bags for both my Mom and myself. We’re going to have to work on getting her some bags! 😀
I know there are people who want to be critical of Aldi because the selection is small and there isn’t a lot of organic food there. Here’s my take on all that. If all you had was Aldi for 100 miles around, then I can understand your dismay. However, there are farmers markets and other stores that sell organic foods. I don’t equate the processed foods because ALL grocery stores sell processed foods, even places like Whole Foods. Those that don’t are called FARMERS MARKETS. Go to them. I highly suggest going to your local farmers market. I do. I buy my local produce there. I buy my pumpkins there. I buy fresh ground peanut butter and apple cider there. However, I see more benefit to Aldi than detriment.
So my final verdict, I’d definitely shop there. When I need to go to the butcher down there, I’ll hit Aldi’s up. So this looks to be an every other week thing and I’ll just shop my local Save-a-lot.