ALDI Grocery Stores
So here's a little more insight into Aldi, for what it's worth...
I have a nephew that is profoundly deaf. He has essentially no hearing at all without his hearing aid, and fairly minimal hearing with. He has some other emotional issues that caused him to chronically overeat, so now he is an obese man nearing forty. There are not a lot of jobs he can do, including anything that requires him to talk on the telephone. Not only can he not hear without special equipment, he has a very strong "deaf" accent so he's difficult to understand.
Wal-Mart has a policy of hiring the handicapped so, even though I am sure he's not the ideal employee, he has had a job with them for the last four years where he's currently living, in Missouri.
But now he wants to move closer to family in Northern GA. He has been trying to get a transfer there with Wal-Mart, but they haven't had any openings. Aldi, on the other hand, has been expanding in the region. So my dad called them to inquire.
My dad told them a little bit about my nephew, and the guy said, absolutely not.
"It's very important to us that all of our employees look fit and stylish. We are trying to maintain a certain image, and fat employees don't fit that image. We don't like fat employees and to tell the truth, we don't like fat customers, either, because they ruin the image we are trying to project."
So my dad said, "You do know you're selling food to Americans, right?"
And the guy said, "Well, you're right; there's not much we can do about the customers, but at least we don't have to have fat employees, too."
having been in Aldi stores on two continents and in a half-dozen different countries, I can attest that there are plenty of Aldi employees who are not at a healthy weight and who would never win any beauty contests.
Aldi unashamedly markets to middle- and lower-income families around the world...and manages to supply good- to great-quality products for an affordable price. Neither their customer base nor their employees in any store I've been in fit whatever pie-in-the-sky "image" that this guy describes.
Doesn't excuse this guy being a jackhat, but this is absolutely not a corporate guideline...too many examples of the opposite.
Aldi is a German chain...this is important, because it explains some of their business practices:
Deposit for a grocery cart -- this is the European standard way of doing things...it means people actually walk the extra 50 feet to return their cart, rather than leaving them littering the parking lot, and they don't have to pay someone to walk the entire parking lot to collect stray carts.
Bring your own bags -- again, this is the European standard, and no big deal. I'd rather bag my own groceries, anyway.
Debit and cash -- every Aldi across Europe has the same policy -- that extra 2% matters.
Having said all that -- I shopped at Aldi regularly in Europe, and found their products to be on par with the national brands. Their dairy, in particular, is really good -- and I've been delighted to find that Aldi in the US brings in many of the products I knew and loved in Europe.
Wish there was one closer to me -- it's only a "passing-by" visit due to distance, but good products, good prices, and a good company.
I finally got to an Aldi on a week day off, the one on Fry Road in Katy, which turned out to be 5 miles north of I-10 on Fry, thought I'd never get there. It's barely in Katy.
Anyway, I liked it and if I lived closer, I'd go there a lot. I only saw 4 employees, 2 checkers, a manager and a stocker, part of the low price guarantee I'm sure. It was clean and bright with plenty of cart room when I was there. The grocery cart situation was easy and frankly provides an uncluttered parking lot. I forgot about the cash only deal, but when I got to the check out, they had a swiper and I used my debit card (whew).
I had about 6 basics on my list and found them at good prices and more. Cheese, eggs, diet coke ($3.95 a 12-pack, about the same as others), bottled water, ibuprofen, coffee. I also bought a bone-in shank ham that looks exactly like what I buy at Kroger, but now that I read here again about packaging similarities, probably isn't the same brand. It is Appleton Farms, .99/lb special ("Get it While it Lasts!"). The coffee was $3.99 for a 12 ounce bag of ground, interested to see how their brands are. Ibuprofen, $2.79 for 100 count, cheese prices were amazing, mostly brick, a few slices (even some Kraft), no pregrated that I saw. A dozen large eggs, .89. 24 pack spring water, $2.79. Didn't need produce, but liked what I saw.
Bottom line, if I'm nearby, I'd certainly stop in again. The Highway 6 location is closer, but....location. The fresh meat section was minimal, but all in all, a great "corner store" that people no doubt stop in on the way home for basics, dinner and great prices. I have nothing bad to say about the store.
And that's all I have to say about that!
Oh, and a tip: went to Kroger also for the .99/lb Boston Butt with $10 purchase and they were out. Got a rain check, but hurry over for that one. Limit 2. Probably ends Wednesday, started last Wednesday.
Aldi having more name brand products, eg, Coke, is part of their plan to capture more of their customer's dollar. As in, plenty of people do most of their shopping there, but would still go elsewhere to get the name brand Coke.
The price is actually really good for Chicago, because you only need to buy one pack to get that price. Anywhere else, to get a deal, you have to buy three or four. A single 12-pack runs $5.99 at Jewel.
There are good Aldi's and bad ones, much like any chain. In San Diego, I used to live by two Albertson's. One, I called the Dirty Albertson's and wouldn't shop there but that didn't mean that every location was gross.
I used to be a bit of an Aldi snob but now I love it. I can't buy everything there but, especially as there's a good-ish one just a mile down the street, I go fairly regularly.
Pet peeve: "Buy 5 12-packs of Coke products and get one free!" I'm not hauling all that weight to my car and house. I just want one. One. So $3.95 is okay. Safeway (and here called Randall's) is the worst on that. I have griped about it, but it is a corporate thing. They don't care, they are looking for the soda slugging family of 6 I guess, not our family of 2-4 depending on the day, and frankly people are backing off of all sodas, diet or not. I never buy soft drinks there.
We have an Aldi inTulsa. I've been in it a few times and my wife goes there quite often. Once (to refute an online argument that a family of four could not feed itself on $400/month) I roughly priced out most of their categories of food - came to less than $1/pound for non-proteins and $2/pound for proteins (fresh or processed).
Some of their products are not available anywhere else and most of the products are good if not spectacular. I'd certainly rather shop there than Spec's (where the produce is often kept too long).
Go to a regular grocery store like Randalls and see how much space is devoted to things that really don't belong ina grocery store. All of those frills add to overhead and your bill. HEB is a little more value oriented than Randalls but still doesn't approach the value offered by Aldi.
We have ALDI in Chicago. My experience is that most of what they sell is El Cheapo and I don't want it but I have learned that 1) being a German company, they sometimes throw in a few German products and I have gotten good Spaetzel and chocolate . 2) When they advertise a produce special like blueberries for 99 cents a pint the sale will run a week but the produce seems to come in only once, at the beginning of the week, so if you go early you may do very well but less well as the week goes on.
But still... I'm sorry, but what does that say about Aldi's shoppers? Or at least about Adli's opinion of Aldi's shoppers? That they're irresponsible shopping-cart users? That they don't have enough class to return the carts? That a quarter is enough to cause them to behave differently? Speaking of "nickeling and diming" you to death.... Not to mention that you have to be sure you have those nickles and dimes handy before you walk in.
I think it's insulting.
Like I said, I found it a rather unpleasant place to be. I have no desire to go back
This is from the ALDI website:
Saving by the cartful. It's in the bag.
Part of the ALDI experience is enjoying all of the money-saving rituals that come with smarter shopping. ALDI regulars have come to find our easy-to-use shopping cart deposit system downright endearing, figuring that paying too much is a much greater inconvenience. With this system, we don’t have to assign an employee to round up carts in the parking lot, we don’t lose expensive carts, and you don’t have to worry about dings in your car doors from runaway carts.
re: Kris in Beijing
Yeah, I was going to say something like that. I always take my own canvas bags with me when I go grocery shopping anyway. I knew I wasn't going to be buying enough stuff for a cart, but I did hope they had handbaskets. They don't.
So I just used my canvas bag and it worked fine for what I purchased.
I hit on average at least three or four different grocery stores a week, and at least one or two of those twice!
I would have no problem adding Aldi for milk, pasta, etc. *IF* it were close to me. I won't be driving out to Bellfort though.
Oh I understand how it works. Im clear on the concept behind it. I just find it annoying. We used to have 2 mega-stores called Auchan that used the same quarter-per-cart routine. They are gone now. Not saying this is why, I just don't want to have to dig out a quarter to shop there because people are too lazy to roll their carts back to the store.
OBD and I ventured over to the Hwy 6 and Bellfort store on Saturday morning. (Well, somebody had to!)
It's definitely 17,000 square feet, as opposed to the article's claim of 1700. It's about the same size as Trader Joe's.
Bring your own bags, quarter for cart, no hand baskets, yada, yada...
As noted elsewhere, it's five aisles with everything from fresh meat to steel shelving. Most of the products are private label/store brands and in many cases, are made to closely resemble the national brand counterparts. For example, the pork and beans can has the same colors and general styling of Van Camp's, (or whatever it is). I didn't buy it, but I am sure it was half the price.
I DID buy:
Gallon of Whole Milk - $1.89, (Very good)
Tomato Sauce - $0.29/can
Tomato Paste - $0.39/can
Colby Cheese - $1.79/lb
And a few other things. All told, 12 items and about $13.
Final observation, if it were close to me, I would go every week for milk and a few pantry items. I didn't buy any produce, (although I had meant to take a swing at the $0.29/avocados), or meat. The milk and the cheese are good.
As it is, it will remain a curiosity.
Lived in Springfield MO for a few years. There was an Aldi right down the road from us. I was told it was a grocery store so I wandered in there one day when I was looking for a specific item. All in all, I found it a rather unpleasant place to be and I can't remember now what I was looking for but, whatever it was, I didn't find it.
So I wandered right back out.
And haven't felt the need to wander back into another one since.
Suppose I should give it another try.
Or maybe not.
Another giant multinational coming to multiple loctions near you.
If I am driving past, I may stop to check out the dairy. With a super Walmart less than a mile away, there is little difference on prices or quality. Definately go now for the introductory low prices. Don't forget to bring your own bags. And a quarter for the shopping cart.
There are three ALDI in my range.
One I love for cheese, cheese, cheese->$1.99 logs o'goat make me happy
One I drop in to for dairy [milk and eggs] and boxes of mixed greens/baby spinach, things I also get at the "Highly Favoured One."
One I avoid.
Each ALDI is stocked for its [perceived?] neighborhood.
Is it open yet?
I think the first one is to be in Pearland, but I hadn't heard it had opened.
Maybe we need to plan a Chowhound trip to Aldi and that German place some weekend.
I am also waiting for Fresh Market to open in the old Rice location on Memorial in the Lantern Lane center.
EDITED TO ADD:
OK, so I went to their website and it shows Grand Openings on 4/11 for stores at:
10402 Hwy 6 S, Sugar Land
2009 S Mason, Katy
5930 N Fry Road, Katy
13340 Tomball Parkway, Houston
11510 Broadway, Pearland
2302 FM 2920, Spring
4140 Fairmont Parkway, Pasa-Get-Down-Dena
6900 FM 1960E, Humble and
2045 North Loop 336 W, Conroe
So apparently they're open. We need some adventurous soul to get over there and let us know what's what.