Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coming to a Neighborhood Near You - Aldi

If you've driven on 751 recently, near the South Point Target, you might have noticed a new area of retail and commercial development. Earlier this fall, I spotted a sign that got my heart pumping just a little bit faster - "COMING SOON - ALDI!!!" Ok, those exclamation points are all my excitement, not from the sign.

Now this might mean very little to many of you, especially those of you who are wondering, "Who or what is an Aldi?" Let me share.

Aldi is a German discount grocery store chain, which has spread throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. Few people know, but Aldi is actually the parent company of Trader Joe's!

Walking into an Aldi, you may be taken aback by the bare bones look. I was first introduced to the chain when I was in high school. I took one look at the place and deemed it a store for poor people. At the time, I hated shopping there with my mom, and found it totally and completely embarrassing (though I secretly loved some of the products we bought there). There is nothing fancy about this chain, but after growing out of my teenage brain, I came to realize the simple appearance and noticeable differences of the store (keep reading) are where the savings lie.

Arriving at the door, you will be required to use a refundable quarter in order to access a shopping cart. You must return your own cart to the store when you are through, or give up your quarter, I guess. This saves time and money on cart corrals and employees retrieving carts throughout the parking lot.

Cart use will cost you a quarter (refunded on return).

Entering the store, you will notice products aren't arranged in nice little rows on shelves. Products are displayed on crates and in/on packing boxes (again, money saving move). You'll find few brand name products. Like Trader Joe's, Aldi carries independent label products, which lowers prices. Because of this, though, you will not be able to use manufacturer coupons at Aldi. For many products, though, this will not matter, as the Aldi price will be equal to or lower than other grocery stores + coupons.

Shelves lined with boxes - no unpacking here.

Checking out is a different experience at this store. Though there is a cashier, you will bag your own groceries (money saver). You would be wise to bring your own bags, otherwise you will be forced to throw your purchases straight into the car or buy Aldi bags (no free bags here). You will also need to plan ahead for your Aldi payment, as they DO NOT accept credit cards (saves money on company fees). They accept cash, debit cards, and food stamp cards. Right now, I'm having trouble figuring out if they accept checks.

Notice, no area for bagging. Items go straight back into your cart.There is an area away from the registers where you are able to bag your own groceries.

The Durham store is slated to open around December 1st. If you're new to the chain, be sure to check it out. If you live in a city with Aldi stores, but haven't shopped there before, I urge you to do the same. Alex and I saved a lot of money shopping at the Madison Aldi store when we were first married, and I'm looking forward to doing the same in Durham!

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