This morning at 9am, a new Aldi grocery store opened in the Washington, DC area, and B and I were there. I don’t know if you’ve ever shopped at an Aldi, or even heard of Aldi, but I love them! They are 1/3 – 1/2 the size of your typical grocery store and do not carry everything that bigger grocery stores do. But they still carry just about everything you need for your kitchen and for cleaning: produce, fresh & deli meats, spices, baking supplies, dairy, boxed and canned staples, international foods, convenience foods, frozen foods, snacks & candy, breads, pet food & supplies, paper goods, personal items, organic items, seasonal, etc. And the best part?! You get quality products you’d get at other grocery stores for much less! How? They save money by not offering some things that other stores do and then pass that savings onto you!
Let’s start outside the store; that is where they keep the shopping carts. The carts are all connected to each and to get one out for shopping, you have to put a quarter into your cart. Before you get upset about “paying” for a cart, let me finish. After you’ve loaded your groceries in your car, you hook your cart back up to the rest and your quarter pops out so you can put it back in your pocket! By using this system, Aldi does not have to purchase and maintain cart corrals in the parking lot nor hire employees to gather up the carts. Savings passed onto customers #1.
You may see some national brands in Aldi (i.e. Charmin and Pringles) but they’re aren’t many. Mostly you’ll see Aldi’s brand and other, less expensive brands. Savings passed onto customers #2.
As I said in my opening paragraph, Aldi is smaller that your typical grocery store. This means they may only have space for 4 different mustards (yellow, dijon, spicy brown and honey) instead of 20 different varieties and/or brands at other stores, but smaller spaces = lower overhead costs. Savings passed onto customers #3.
At checkout, your groceries are not bagged for you and you are not given bags. Your items are placed in another, empty cart (like what happens at Costco, BJs, Sams and the like) and you either bring your own bags or buy some from the cashier. After checking out, there is a sturdy shelf lining the whole front of the store. You pull your cart up to the shelf and bag your groceries or you roll your cart out to your car and load your purchases into boxes you have in your trunk (this is how my parents shop!). Aldi not only saves money by not giving bags to customers, they are also helping save the environment by encouraging us to reuse bags we already have. Savings passed onto customers #4.
When a store or business swipes your credit card as payment for your purchase, credit card vendors charges the business a percentage of that sale to process the transaction. Once in a while, a check written for groceries isn’t honored by the bank it’s written on and returned to the business to which it was made out. Then someone at that business needs to track down the check owner and get the money for the purchase or hire a collections firm to do it for them. For these reasons, Aldi only takes 2 forms of payment: cash or debit card. Savings passed onto customers #5.
Do you know what happens to a manufacturer’s coupon after you give it to grocery store cashier? It and all the other coupons are sent to people whose job it is to sort coupons by manufacturer, tally them up and send them to the manufacturer for reimbursement. Some of this is done with the help of machines and some by hand. Aldi does not offer their own store coupons, nor do they accept manufacturers’ coupons. Therefore, they don’t have to either take the loss on the product or hire people to process the coupons for reimbursement. Savings passed onto customers #6.
I’ve taken the time to go through a couple of my Aldi receipts in the last 2 years and compare the total to buying the same or similar items at my other favorite grocery store, Wegmans. I can do this because Wegmans’ website lists all the items in the store where I shop and their current price. 😀 At Aldi, my receipts have been 25 – 45% less than what I’d pay at Wegmans and Wegmans’ overall prices are less than Giant, Safeway and Harris Teeter, in my personal shopping experience. For example, while there today, I bought a 20 lb bag of Audubon Wild Bird Food for $5.99. The exact same bag (same brand, weight and ingredients) at Wegmans is currently $8.99 if you have a Wegmans Shopping Card. I saved 33% on that bird food at Aldi! That is a big deal to me since we go through a TON of bird food in our yard.
B loves to go to Aldi with me because they always have a selection of toys for him to oogle. And at Christmas time, they have the best prices on NERF products, according to my 12 year old, and he looks at store and online prices of all things NERF, weekly.
OK, so let’s get back to the fact that this morning was an Aldi grand opening. The store opened at 9am and we arrived at 8:25am. There were friendly corporate employees outside with Dunkin Donuts and hot coffee. One of the gentlemen was handing out numbers: the 1st 100 people (18 or older) to arrive would receive an Aldi gift card! I was #47! Quarters were put in all the grocery carts, just for the grand opening. After the ribbon was cut at 9am, we headed into the store and received an Aldi, reusable shopping bag; even B got a bag! I like their bags because they are bigger than most store’s bags. At the back corner of the store, you could turn in your number to receive an envelope with a gift card in it. The amounts varied and ranged from $10 – $100; we received a $10 GC. 😀 There were sample tables throughout the store, as well: I didn’t get to all of them, but what I did see had chips, granola bars, cookies and cheeses.
We took our bird seed and 4 really cool Star Wars Hot Wheels cars to the checkout. After paying for our items, B went to the front counter to bag, and I entered a drawing for a year’s worth of free produce. *fingers crossed* There were two corporate employees at the cart return and I wanted to tell someone how much I like their stores and give them an example of why. I let him know that every Thanksgiving, our church members buy and distribute holiday meal baskets to families in DC. One of the required items in the baskets is either a canned, fresh or smoked ham, 4-6 lbs. Other than a Honey Baked Ham store, I cannot find hams that small in the grocery stores in my area, except at Aldi. I don’t know about you, but when I’m buying for my own family and others during the holiday season, I can’t afford Honey Baked Ham. But at Aldi, I can get a larger ham at a good price for my family and I can also buy 4-6 lb hams for other families.
This nice Aldi gentleman told me that this Thanksgiving, he would like me to come into the store, speak with the store manager about the size and number of hams we needed so that Aldi could provide us with those hams. I thought that was going above and beyond! He didn’t say he was offering us free hams or anything. I think he was just saying, if you let us know what you need, we’ll make sure we order it and have it here for you, so no one’s running all over the place searching for hams.
I’m so glad there is an Aldi closer to my house and they will be seeing a lot of us.
***UPDATE! I meant to include this info yesterday but forgot! Right inside the entrance doors at Aldi, you’ll find that week’s sales ad. Right before you walk out the exit door, you’ll find next week’s ad. I love that I get to preview next week’s sales and can start meal and errand planning already. You can sign up to receive their sales ad via weekly email or view them on their website, Aldi.com. I don’t know if they mail their weekly ad to locals because I’ve never lived close enough to receive one. However, it would not surprise me if they did not mail ads in order to pass savings #7 onto customers. 😀
I was not invited to the grand opening by Aldi. I just found out last night from a blog I follow that the opening was today and decided to go. Although I received a GC from Aldi, so did 99 other shoppers, and it was not given to me to express my opinion. These are solely my opinions and I am in no way associated with Aldi, nor any other grocery store. I merely like to share my good experiences with others so y’all can experience them, too.