Disappointingly, we were out of town the on the day of the grand opening, or else we totally would have been there. ALDI pulled out all the stops! They were giving out “Golden Tickets” to the first 100 customers worth up to $100. There was a drawing where the lucky winner could win a full year of free groceries. They had free samples (ALDI never has samples!) and even were giving out free ALDI eco-friendly shopping bags! Forget lining up for Black Friday or new iPhones, we might’ve been willing to camp out overnight for this!
Fortunately, not all was lost because in the mass mailed grand opening announcement postcard was a $5 coupon good for any purchase of $30 or more. It was a great way to incentivize people in the area to check them out. Evidently either that campaign worked marvelously or they didn’t need to do it at all because I hear from one of the ALDI employees at that location who attends my church that they are jam packed with customers all the time.
Our First Visit
So upon returning from our trip, we made plans to check out the new store. What a thrill it was to make the 10-minute drive rather than the old 25-minute slog. Moreover, this store is much more conveniently located to other places we visit opposed to the old store which was by the airport and basically the only reason why we head that direction.
The new store is also much bigger than the old store. It incorporates the newest design of ALDI stores, with more retail space, more refrigerated sections, higher ceilings, brighter lighting, and in general a more open feel. It almost has a warehouse feel now. Some might feel that it’s more sterile than before, but it certainly feels more efficient to me. We were surprised also that they gave us another set of $5-off coupons, one for each remaining week of the month.
One thing that was for sure, though. My friend from church was absolutely right that it was quite busy with shoppers! The product on the shelves looked a bit disheveled in places and there were a number of out-of-stock merchandise—likely all results of being pawed through by the deal-craving masses. Apparently, we aren’t the only ALDI superfans in town.
Not All Went Well in ALDI Land
Even though we were the farthest thing from snooty ALDI critics, our first visit to our brand new store wasn’t without issues. After checking out, we investigated our receipt carefully (what, you mean you don’t do this?) and discovered that a large number of our produce items were mispriced. These weren’t just a few small mistakes, but we were charged anywhere from 66% to 100% more than the printed prices on the shelves for! We got back in the long line to talk with the manager who was manning a register, who with a frazzled look, simply said that they probably were entered incorrectly into the computer but didn’t offer to correct it.
We were a bit disappointed with our first experience with the new store, but having a deep reserve of goodwill toward ALDI, we didn’t go into full-blown “don’t-you-dare-rip-off-a-crumb-saver” mode. When we got home, we decided to write a private message to ALDI on Facebook to let them know what had happened. Not that a couple dollars were a big deal, but so they could be aware of the issue and prevent leaving a bad first-impression on new customers. (We definitely want our store to stay in business!)
Amazingly, they responded personally on Facebook within a few hours and then followed up with a phone call to apologize and to get more details for further training of their staff. They even mailed us a $5 gift card for our trouble. I’m quite certain that the ALDI team in our location will hit their groove and get better over time, but their customer service department (and social media savvy!) was stellar, and has further fueled our loyalty to this store.
Other ALDI Quick Bites
As if there could be any more good things to say about ALDI, here are few random facts about ALDI that we thought were noteworthy:
- Their Products Vary By Regions. We recently visited an ALDI in Southern California and were surprised to see that they sold their own private label tofu for $1.39. Hey, don’t forget us tofu-lovers in Tennessee too, ALDI! Moreover, bananas have been as low as $0.29/lb. in Tennessee not long ago, but in that same California store they were going for $0.15/lb!
- Solar Powered Savings. The Southern California store had a little placard that said that the store was fully powered by solar panels installed on the store roof. Since you already know how I feel about solar power, you know how intrigued I was about this! Don’t know if it’s just a California thing, or if it’s a renewable energy initiative that ALDI is rolling out nationwide.
- ALDI Now Accepts Credit Cards. Speaking of Southern California, it was only earlier this year that ALDI opened their first stores in that region. Apparently in concert with that expansion, ALDI started accepting credit cards around the same time. (I guess Californians won’t shop anywhere that doesn’t accept credit cards?) Most significantly, their prices have NOT increased since that change. (We’ve actually noticed a few of our staple items go DOWN in price.) Getting cashback from our ALDI shopping trips now almost feels like stealing!
- ALDI vs. LIDL. Speaking of expansion, ALDI’s biggest competitor in Europe is making the leap across the pond to the US. Lidl is another German discount grocer that’s been taking the Old World by storm. They’re headed to the US East first, but if the success of ALDI is any indication, you may be seeing one near you soon. Interestingly, we went to a Lidl on a trip to Austria a few years back and we seriously thought that it was ALDI going by a different name.
- ALDI is Becoming Healthier Than Whole Foods. According to this Business Insider report, ALDI may now be considered more health-conscious than even Whole Foods. With their control over their private label products (90% of what they sell), ALDI has a tremendous competitive advantage in being able to make sweeping changes to what they put into their products.
- We Aren’t the Biggest ALDI Fans. While we love ALDI, we admit that the title of biggest ALDI superfans probably should go to this Alabama couple who loved the store so much that they had engagement photos taken there! See for yourself!
Is there an ALDI near you? Have you been there? Tell us what you think below!
You may be interested in our previous series on the details of why we love ALDI so much, and also our post on how we research the grocery stores that save us the most money:
- 5 Steps to Find a Grocery Store that Save You Money
- Why ALDI Should Be Your Best Friend
- Supercharge Your Savings at ALDI: Part 1 – Weekly Specials
- Supercharge Your Savings at ALDI: Part 2 – Double Guarantee
- Supercharge Your Savings at ALDI: Part 3 – Price Matching