Monday, November 18, 2013

ALDI and I

Quite a few years ago now I met Aldi in Europe! What a fun time that was, but the memories faded when I returned to the U.S. Then one day I read in my local paper that Aldi was coming to my area and we would meet again.
I know, you thought I had a secret admirer, but the truth of the matter is that I have become an admirer of Aldi. We have quite a few very good Grocery stores in our area, some better than others. All known for quality. Albrect Discount or Aldi as we know it, actually has two divisions. Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud. In the United States Aldi Nord operates as Trader Joe's and Aldi Sud operates as Aldi.

The two Albrect brothers, Karl and Theo were no strangers to the grocery business when they began this billion dollar business. They both had worked in their Mothers' small grocery store in Essen Germany which she started in 1913 and it is still a working store.. They were and are a force in the grocery business throughout Europe and Scandinavia.

In 1979 they brought Aldi to the US . The first stores were in Idaho and now there are over 1200 stores in 32 states, with more coming every day. Their highly efficient and cost savings way of doing business enables them to bring groceries to the public that compete  with  the price points of other stores, and in these times of economic stress, everyone is looking for their ability to lower their grocery bills.

When this store first came to town, many of the customers were unfamiliar with the 25 Cents system, but this was not unknown to us and made a lot of sense.  You insert a quarter in the slot of the first cart in line, this unlocks it and you begin your trek of shopping with your list in hand. The carts are kept clean, they are not found wandering all over the highway and parking lot and it keeps the cost down.  I have been told that a lost cart costs several hundred dollars, which when taken home by someone, replacement costs are reflected  in the product lines. Like it or not, someone has to pay for them. With this system, you are essentially renting the cart and you will receive your 25 cents when you return the cart.  This unknown customer above is getting her cart .

You enter the outer and then the inner doors. This is designed to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer. Each store is identical in its design, making it easy to find things. I have never been bold enough to ask this of any of the cashiers, but I have been told that in the US they have lower staff levels and usually start them at a higher rate of pay.  I am not sure whether the staff would agree with that, but that's the gossip. Many of the products have their own brand names and at certain times of the year they have many German delicacies.  We do have many Winter European visitors in this area and it is not unusual to hear other languages being spoken. Their dark rye bread and mustard's are a big favorite, but you cannot get them all year. They are the largest supplier of  wine in Germany and now I am seeing a very nice selection of wines in the local store. I have yet to try them, but I had a conversation with a delightful customer just the other day, who said they are lovely table wines. This same customer was standing in front of the display below, enthusiastically remarking on the price and quality of this product.

I have compared their private brands to some others, and find that many times they are more health oriented. Some of the Cereals have less sugar, and the cost is usually half of what you would pay in another store. You will not find some of the fancier items, such as Fresh Herbs, and other exotics, but the produce you do find is good quality and they support many local suppliers.  When blueberries were in season the price was so competitive,  women were buying entire flats and returning the next day to do it again. They do follow the seasons and you cannot always get the same item.  Every week there are items on sale.  This week I bought 1lb of butter for 1.29 and since I only use butter I bought a few for the freezer. As you can see, from the picture above, "No Frills", but that coincides with their motto:  "Competitive Advantage Through Efficiency"!

Both of the brothers have gone on to the Grocery store in the sky, but family still control the business including one of the daughters. Aldi is not going away anytime soon and will continue to be a force in the grocery field bringing the right prices to their customer base.

We are at the check out now, and here the cashiers actually make change out of their cash drawer. Remember, Cash or Debit card is  the only form of payment. This was another new way of doing business for some, but evidently it has not hurt business. Some days are very crowded and the parking lot is always full. I chose a later time of day to visit. I did my shopping and Mr. Dude took the pictures. We always try to ask permission of anyone who will be shown or only take the back of  of people, not everyone wants to participate in my ramblings. If you are lucky enough to have either a Trader Joe or an Aldi on your vicinity, stop in you will be glad that you did.

1 comment:

  1. We now have a very convenient Trader Joe's in Tally. I say convenient since we both pass it on our trips to or through town. Just before, during, and just after lunch is a nightmare!!! Now most of the tenants in the strip mall are food oriented and the parking lot is slammed. We now shop ahead depending on who we visit during the week and at what time. I'm so glad they came.