The fun discussion on the Costco thread inspired me to post about my favorite love/hate retail relationship: Aldi.
The focus on efficiency
The shopping experience
The size of the stores
Not having to decide between a half-dozen practically-indistinguishable brands
I’m neutral about:
The prices are decent but not out-of-this world
The quality is on-par with other store brands
Lack of selection; if I have to go to a regular store in addition to Aldi to get everything on my list, it defeats the enjoyableness of the experience.
I understand the lack of selection is part of their strategy; they only stock things that are going to sell well and that are profitable at the target price point. But it’s very frustrating as a consumer.
There are some things there which the price is crazy high, 2x a good main grocery store ‘sale’ price.Peanut Butter and Goldfish crackers are two examples off the top of my head. But the basics like Dairy, Eggs, baking and canned goods are hard/impossible to beat elsewhere.
My biggest issue with the stores is they run out of things. Anything/everything can be out of stock. Milk? Oh yea we’re out of milk, so sorry. Eggs? Those are coming in on Tuesday…
When you’re rushed for time the small store size and get-in-get out quick is nice, but only if they have everything you need. I think they do it on purpose so they don’t get ‘stuck’ with spoilage.
Their knock off red bull is awesome. Their $2 calzones are tasty. Their no-name high end bacon is way better than the more expensive basic name brand bacon. The new milk containers are weird. The knock off corona tastes identical when you add a lime. That’s all I can think of right now.
I’ve only been to one Aldi once and wasn’t sure if my experience was typical until I read your summary. Except the first three things you listed as positive are actually negative to me. Maybe I’d have a different opinion if I lived within walking distance, but in a sprawled out SoCal it’s not near my house or in the same block as any of my usual shopping destinations so I’d need a purpose to go there, but that’s never going to happen because of the small and varying selection and availability. They only recently expanded (rather quickly) to the west coast, and I suspect they’ll need to change their strategy to attract more customers.
Have been an Aldi shopper for many years. It used to be a good place to shop and save money. But more recently, when Aldi began accepting all major credit cards including my Discover card, it became a GREAT place to shop and save money!
Certain of their German items are unique, and oftentimes quite tasty, and always inexpensive. It’s sort of like visiting the continent on the cheap.
I don’t have a ton of knowledge of San Diego, but I’d imagine it’s somewhat similar to LA. Groceries (talking produce, meats) are pretty cheap at places like Pavilions and much better quality than produce and meats at expensive places like Whole Foods in the Midwest.
If you’re talking about non-perishable items, at this point you can really buy those from Amazon, Target, etc. where they’re cheap enough and easily delivered/picked up.
Well they both sell things and are a good value in many ways, but that’s about it for similarities. Aldi is more like a stripped down no-frills Trader Joes…which is what it was designed to be if I remember correctly, each being owned by different members of the same family.
We mainly use them for fresh veggies and fruit since they are consistently cheaper and have better quality than Kroger/Walmart and the other chains around here. But their cheese, dairy and chicken prices are awesome as well. Yes, they sell out over the weekend if you don’t go by Friday, but it is all part of the saving money game you have to play. We are lucky they are within 5 mins of the house and the other grocery stores we shop. If I know I am getting items other than produce, I will take a cooler and hit Aldi before the main grocery store trip.
Plus their store size means they only have that much of harder to find products. Their prices for basic necessities are very good to unbeatable. It’s also a faster shopping if you know what they carry and made your list accordingly. The fact that they have usually one of a specific item instead of 3-4 like bigger supermarket stores is both a plus and a minus depending on how you look at it and how picky you are about your groceries. But they also carry a few things that you cannot find in most other stores nearby.
Main minuses for me are (in no particular order):
(1) The carts. Yes it saves them having someone bringing back the carts to the front of the store but it’s really a hassle especially if you don’t happen to have a quarter on you.
(2) The bagging is also a pain even if you bring your own bags (but more so if you don’t). Having to take your cart and fill in your bags at a separate table is not particularly efficient time-wise. And if they are very busy, it could actually be a bottle-neck. And if you forgot your own bags, that adds to the time to do your groceries.
(3) Their store locations. Most of their locations are either on the outskirts of town or in kinda sketchy areas. I’d have to drive 15-20 min to the nearest one where as there are 3 Krogers or the like within 5 min. So even if they’d save me $20 on groceries per trip, the extra gas, car mileage, potential for not having something in stock, and half hour of my time makes it tempting not to shop there.
I’m a fan of the Aldi 25¢ carts. Oftentimes am able to pick up a quick quarter on account of carelessness of other shoppers too preoccupied, or absent minded, to redeem their cart. And I’m always on the lookout for such carts.
I’ll admit hesitation when it comes to leaning down to pick up a penny on the sidewalk. But I will for certain lean down for a quarter.
I keep an array of various size open top cardboard boxes in the trunk of my car. I wheel my Aldi cart straightaway out to the car, transfer my items quickly into the boxes, return the cart, and go from there. Easy peasy.
Having represented a manufacturer in litigation I can tell you for certain that ALDI does use some private label services. Meaning, they contact the brand name manufacturer and pay for a private label over the product. This of course means the quality is the same.