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Oct 11, 2008 05:49 PM

Whole Foods- I have to let you go (for Now)...Hello Aldi

Nothing like receiving a 3rd quarter 401K statement in Saturday's mail....nice way to start the weekend...anyway, I've made an applied economic transition, albeit temporary, but ya never know, it could achieve permanence.....So, this Aldi is actually OK, despite these mystery brands like Grandessa, Millville, and the cutesy Fit and Active....I hear they are part of Trader Joe's, so it may offer hope.....So I checked it out a couple of times recently, and here's my shortlist:

The Good:

1) The Millville whatever Bran Cereal- can't beat the huge box for $1.49...and it sure beats 3 tabs of Metamucil
2) Imported Havarti w/ Dill , an 8 oz slab for under $3...the Antoinette brand- but no sign of Maria
3) The frozen Southwestern style eggrolls- oozing with ecstasy....once you heat 'em
4) The turkey cold cut variety pack...somewhat retro, especially the Cotto turkey- what is Cotto? the turkey bologna is lame though- how but turkey pastrami instead Mrs. Aldi?
5) A delicious, bold, well-defined, casky bottle of Winking Owl Shiraz, with plum and Currant notes for $2.99 to top it all off...why bother with a pricey Silver Oak when you could indulge in some robust Winking Owl!!! I can't wait to try the $3.99 Riesling to chase down with some Hot Pockets...

The not-so-good:

1) Why can't you have more than 1 cashier per store? ..and why is that one cashier the only person I ever see in the store..I guess that's how you keep the prices down...1 the line usually goes all the way back to the refrigerated dairy section..Are you the Manager too?
2) The fresh produce comment
3) You guy's carry some weird stuff!!! like Bury Lane Parka winter coats for $24.99.. I didn't know you were in competition with TJ Maxx!!!
4) You charge 25 cents for a shopping cart!!! I have never felt so humiliated...all the more reason to go back to Whole Foods, where the cart is free

And speaking of whole Foods...You know i I luv ya... I walk into your store and want to buy EVERYTHING!!! But your too pricey for the most of us IMHO....I just can't right now shell out a bloody fortune for some curried chicken salad, $11.99 per# for your superb olive bar,$4.95 for a slice of carrot cake, or $6 for a bunch of celery.... But your $5.99 Rotisserie chicken on Thursday's here in Chicago is the best deal in town...and your salad bar is the best,!!!

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  1. gave me quite a laugh. Seems you have that love/hate thing going on with Aldi's. That quarter for the cart also keeps prices low. Our local Aldi's sells a dozen eggs for .99 cents and I'll never pay more than that again. Just saw Halloween candy well below the grocery chains/quick marts. I have my favorite items and a few items I've tried that I won't revisit. I don't buy the produce; except for .44/lb bananas or the non food items (I see them too). The flowers are a steal but my location doesn't sell wine. Last week I FILLED my cart with staples for $50.00. I can't shop like that anywhere else.

    Whole Foods on the other hand doesn't seem to acknowledge the economic times we're living in. I love their Indian bar for lunch and the bakery breads, my fav brand of Greek yogurt and the cheese dept. but until I see a "reality check" from WF's I'm not writing any checks.

    On the other hand, it's a completely unfair comparison Aldi/WF's.

    I've been shopping everywhere to get the bargains, leaning on local produce I love and cooking a good deal more at home. The best offense is a well planned shopping list!

    1. pauli, know that you get your quarter back when you return your cart at Aldi. :-)

      Aldi is great for some things. Hello, canned salmon. Hello, decent dijon mustard for a great price. Um, straightforward pasta, yes...onions, no, lettuce, no. It's a crap shoot, but worth the roll of the dice for staples. Hey, but you can find good deals on tilapia fillets. And crappy deals on peppers. Know your market.

      And get that quarter back! :-)


      1. Am I crazy, or did someone tell me that they saw SOME organic items at Aldi?

        Note: When I was in college I knew the regional manager of the store in my college twon. He asked me to steal items (hiding expensive canned goods among the corn, etc) and shoplift items from the store and report back on how I did it and what I was able to get away with. My heart pounded everytime, but it turns out I was pretty good at it. I had a "get outta jail free card" that I was to present if I got caught but I never had to use it. The bonus, I got to keep all of my goodies.

        Note to self: If economy gets too bad I can return to a life of crime. Hope I'm not rusty!

        1. The Aldi's that I go to has some good produce. It's not better than Wegman's, but most of it is pretty good. I also buy the eggs, juice, soymilk, and other basics there.

          Why buy Kellog's cornflake crumbs when I can get a ginormous box of 'flakes of corn' and grind it up at home for a fraction of the price?

          Has anyone ever bought their canned tomato products? I've always been wary of them.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cheesecake17

            >>The Aldi's that I go to has some good produce. It's not better than Wegman's, but most of it is pretty good. I also buy the eggs, juice, soymilk, and other basics there.

            I cannot speak for all Aldi locations. However, I will say that the stores that I shop at in Chicagoland turn ALL their produce in less than two days. In other words, by the end of the business day, the store is nearly "stocked out" of most produce items.

            I would not doubt if the stores turn their inventory 50+x which gives them a tremendous free cash flow.

            1. re: jlawrence01

              The best time to shop at Aldi is Friday afternoons. Sometimes they put their fruit half price or buy one get one free. When I'm buying apples for a pie or crisp, I would rather buy the 10 lbs on sale at Aldi than spend $1.39 at Wegman's.

              Maybe it's different in Chicago, but I noticed that a lot of the shoppers in the places I go to don't buy a lot of fruits and vegetables. I've seen people picking out one pepper or a handful of string beans. (and these aren't single people... they're moms with kids in tow)

          2. Actually, it's the other way around: Trader Joe's is part of Aldi, which is a huge German-owned international discount grocery chain (revenues of $48 BILLION in 2006).

            8 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              My last understanding of this is that there are two separate Aldi companies that sometimes may work in conjunction but often don't. The part of the (Albrecht) family that owns Aldi stores in the US is NOT the part that owns Trader Joe's, so unless something has changed recently they don't do much in the way of sharing or joint planning, even though that might make sense sometimes. May be difficult to know for sure, though. The Aldi companies are privately held and don't necessarily have to disclose such things.

              Back to the original topic, comparing Aldi's to Whole Foods is kinda like comparing McD's to Capital Grille, yeah? ;-)

              1. re: CrazyOne

                >>The part of the (Albrecht) family that owns Aldi stores in the US is NOT the part that owns Trader Joe's, so unless something has changed recently they don't do much in the way of sharing or joint planning, even though that might make sense sometimes.

                But they sure think alike:

                1) limited SKUs
                2) private labels
                3) name brand products generally limited to special purchases
                4) smaller stores
                5) Produce generally wrapped
                6) Highly centralized warehouse distribution (as opposed to direct vendor delivery)

                1. re: CrazyOne

                  Aldi's (Europe) is jointly owned by the two Albrecht brothers. In the US, one brother has Aldi's and the other has Trader Joe's. So while they aren't technically the same company they are effectively modeled after Aldi's Europe (similar to what Wal-Mart does here they have fixed-price contracts with producers to keep costs low and will vary the product mix based on what they can get for the best price).

                  Whole Foods has deeper and wider product offerings. Although WF is not my primary food source I'll shop there more often than I'll hit Aldi's. Aside from proximity issues Aldi's (at least the ones in my area) are downright depressing stores to shop - sort of like cold-war era East Berlin.

                  1. re: ferret

                    ferret, then you should be delighted to learn that the Aldi's nearest me is CLEAN, friendly, well stocked, well organized and provides coupons. While speaking to a manager about an overcharge (one item scanned one to many times,which I was promptly refunded) I commented on the cleanliness and his whole face lit up.

                    Having stopped at an Aldi's closer to one of my customers homes, I've seen quite a different Aldi store ie: smelly, dirty and unorganized. I walked in and walked out in seconds.

                    No one enjoys shopping in a poorly managed store but it is NOT inherent in all locations.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      The only thing I can think of more depressing than returning to either of the Aldi's near me is driving out of my way to find a less-depressing Aldi's. As I said, I have never regarded Whole Foods as my main grocer (I have two mega-chain groceries on my way home that I rely on more for regular shopping). I'll go to Whole Foods for cheeses, sometimes wine and the occasional odd & end. My financial outlook needs to worsen well beyond where it is now to contemplate a return trip to Aldi's.

                      1. re: ferret

                        Interesting ferret. My financial outlook hasn't changed at all (yet) but I like saving money where I can. I won't pay $3.00 for a dozen eggs when Aldi's sells them for .99. While I'm there, I'm going to nab a few basics for my travel bargain. But I appreciate your perspective.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          I don't see a real reason to go out of my way to save less than a buck on eggs. My time has more value than that. I don't recall ever paying $3 a dozen, possibly more than $2 but that really doesn't justify my visit to Aldi's. Add to that a far narrower range of products and it just ends up being a concession. I tend to focus my shopping on what's on sale at my larger grocers (Jewel & Dominick's in Chicago) and get specialty items at Costco and Trader Joe's when I happen by. Whole Foods happens to be at my offramp on the way home and I will occasionally get some specialty items. To reiterate, my time is worth more than a few dollars savings. I appreciate saving money but I can't say I'm wasting a lot by not visiting Aldi's.

                          1. re: ferret

                            Last week a dozen eggs were 3.60 at A&P in NJ. Even if I'm there shopping, I won't buy eggs at that price. As I said up thread I shop everywhere depending on the bargains that week and that includes farmers markets. I work two jobs, have 4 kids (2 still under my roof) and a husband who pitches in when he's not out of town but I think the discussion of this thread touches on tradeoffs during these uncertain economic times. Everyone feels their time is valuable but perhaps we just differ on how that time is spent shopping for food. I'm cool w/that.