If you read our previous article on 5 Steps to Find a Grocery Store that Saves You Money, you already know that ALDI holds a special place in our hearts because basically, ALDI saves us tons of money. We had heard a lot about this legendary store, but for a long time didn’t have one nearby to really experience the savings for ourselves. But after moving to ALDI territory, we soon understood why ALDI was the talk of our crumb saver friends and eventually learned a few tricks to get the most out of our ALDI experience.
To understand and really appreciate this amazing store, here are a few interesting tidbits you need to know. ALDI is:
- Cousins with Trader Joe’s: Whoaaa! That’s a good enough reason in itself to fall in love with ALDI! Actually they are technically brothers as Bro Karl owns ALDI and Bro Theo co-owns Trader Joe’s (wish there were more brothers in this family!). But as you’ll see, their businesses succeed on very different models.
- Based in Germany: Don’t get weirded out if their specials occasionally highlight smoked bratwurst and pork schnitzel.
- A Crumb Saver’s ideal business model: Being from CA, Trader Joe’s was our go-to for anything delicious or unique – vegan ice cream, frozen mango, and yummy snacks galore. But don’t expect the same “cool and trendy” Trader Joe’s atmosphere at ALDI. In fact, switch around almost everything you expect at Trader Joe’s and….you have ALDI. So then, why do we like it so much? ALDI’s business model is geared for budget-minded shoppers. Us! They keep their costs low by having minimal overhead and smaller selections. We think it’s brilliant.
How ALDI Rolls
Here is a glimpse of what ALDI’s brilliance looks like:
- Bring your own bag: Not only is it super green, but I’m happy to bring my own reusable bag in exchange for super bargains on their products.
- Coin-released carts: The USA is a bit behind Europe in not transitioning over to coin-released carts, where you put in a quarter for the privilege of using the cart and retrieve the quarter when you return it. Because this is something ALDI implements proudly, ALDI doesn’t have to hire college students to run around the parking lot gathering left behind carts. And the end result is that you don’t have to end up paying for it with your purchases because you are incentivized to keep the parking lot clean yourself.
- Basic food selections: Don’t go to ALDI expecting to find the array of items you would find at Publix, or very many specialty items either. ALDI works off the model of “limited selection, lower cost”. So, for example, instead of 10 different types of flour (i.e. bread, self-rising, whole wheat, white wheat), ALDI sells the one that is most widely useable – all-purpose – and at a price that most places can’t beat.
- Private label brands: Although you will occasionally find Pringles or Naked Juice, the majority of ALDI products are ALDI brands. The packaging colors and styles may look mighty familiar, but upon closer scrutiny you will likely find Millville cornflakes (in Kellogg’s yellow and red) and Savoritz crackers (Ritz….Savoritz….how can you complain adding “save” to anything?). On our last ALDI excursion, we saw these 2 cereals being sold side by side (yup, look at that price difference right above!):
- Efficiency: So, a lot of this already demonstrates ALDI’s efficiency, but it goes even further.
- ALDI operates with a minimal number of employees who seem to be trained to run only at full-throttle. I have yet to see an employee not productively busy.
- Products are displayed in their original bulk boxes to save on having to shelve items (which can be useful if you forgot to bring your reusable bag).
- ALDI does not accept credit cards (they do accept debit cards) which is another way they increase their monetary efficiency.
- Checkout at the register is like lightning and is aided by huge barcodes on ALDI brand products so that the swipe is super efficient.
So, are you ready to make ALDI your best friend? If you think you’re impressed, don’t leave yet. Check out the rest of the articles in this series where we delve into specific ways you can supercharge your ALDI savings.