June 16, 2010 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
A good friend of mine may never return to one of the best places to find great grocery deals.
The store was Aldi. The friend was confused.
Aldi is a discount grocery store chain with more than 1,000 stores in 31 states. The store also has international arms in Europe and Australia. Aldi carries “private selection,” aka off-brand items, that are comparable to many of the name brands you find in other grocery stores. But these items are often just a fraction of the cost of popular brands, which is music to my little red wallet (just check out this week’s deals for proof).
Unfortunately, my friend visited Aldi and left not wanting to ever return.
She shopped with her arms filled with groceries because she couldn’t figure out how to detach a cart from the rows outside the store. She couldn’t put her food in bags after she paid because the store charged for bags. Then there was an incident involving a metal bar and a cardboard box that I’m still trying to figure out.
Aldi is a fabulous store with great prices. But here are some things you need to know (courtesy of the store’s website) to get the most out of your shopping experience.
- Bring a quarter. “You’ll find ALDI shopping carts hooked together right outside the door. As you approach the store, just insert a quarter to release a cart. When you’re finished shopping, reconnect the chain and get your quarter back. This expense-saving tradition (no rolling carts to chase and no damaged cars!) has become a legendary part of the ALDI culture.”
- Remember those reusable bags in the back of the trunk? Better bring them inside. “And as long as you’re bringing a quarter, bag even more savings at ALDI by bringing some bags from home. To help bring you honest to goodness savings, we don’t hire baggers or bury the cost of free grocery bags in our prices. Instead, we encourage you to bring your own.” If not, you’ll end up having to buy your own bags.
- Don’t forget your cash. Aldi doesn’t accept credit cards, but they gladly take debit cards, cash and food stamps. “Taking checks also slows down the line and saddles us with bad check costs, so we don’t mess around with them. By avoiding credit cards, we avoid the extra time it takes to sign a slip and the hefty processing fee charged by credit card companies.”
- Don’t expect to get all your grocery shopping done at Aldi. I usually stop at Aldi first during the week, but wrap up my grocery shopping at other stores. “Our customers find they can do as much as 90% of their weekly shopping at ALDI. We carry everything from fresh meat and produce to frozen foods to dairy, bakery, canned goods, and paper products.”
Any other tips for Aldi shoppers?