Aldi is a no-frills grocer that lacks the perks Americans are used to. You will not find glistening towers of intricately interlacing vegetables. You will find utilitarian stacks of boxes and bags containing weird off-brand products.
“Ah, so this is how the communists shop!” *sips organic pear brandy from snifter*
Aldi is more than different. It’s the best damn grocer on the continent.
My family started shopping at Aldi in a continuing effort to batten down the money hatches in order to save and be responsible, which is boring, so we motivate ourselves with adventure carrots, like an upcoming trip to Florida. Aldi with its cardboard box offerings scared me a little at first. But then it had me. It had me at $1.19 special on sweet potato chips.
Here are six Aldi quirks I’ve experienced in recent weeks.
1. #$%^ I need a quarter.
Aldi requires a quarter deposit per cart. I have thus far twice been caught sans quarter and had to rely on the kindness of quarter-wielding strangers in order to procure my shopping vessel. I paid it forward with acts of Aldi kindness at the cart return. For death, taxes and the fact I will forget my Aldi quarter again are the only certainties in life.
2. Wait…why is that 8-year-old kid snagging empty boxes from the milk section?
First I see an elderly cat in a beret snag a box. Then a portly 8-year-old appears out of NO WHERE and runs off with an empty milk box. Oh, oh oh oh oh. I get it. You have to purchase bags at Aldi. Plastic bags are 6 cents a pop. Snap, those empty boxes are lookin prime to hold my Aldi organic 2 percent milk. *eyes empty shampoo box, power walks toward empty shampoo box, side eyes left, side eyes right, procures empty shampoo box, victory is mine, ahahahahahaha*
4. BTW, the check-out belt doesn’t stop
I figured out the check-out lane belt is about twice as fast as belts elsewhere the hard way. The woman behind me put her items on the belt before I was done placing mine. So her stuff collided into my stuff, and I started to unload my groceries like VHS fast-forward, and I’m sweating and she’s confused, and we were both like, “Uh, can you slow this thing down?” and the check-out gal said “No. We’re evaluated on speed and it can’t be slowed.”
Then I bought the other shopper’s iceberg lettuce by mistake. It was 89 cents and I really didn’t care, but the check-out girl refunded my coins straight away in the face of this grocery collision flap.
5. Bag it yourself
This is how it works: The cashier rings in your items and drops the items into an empty cart to her side. You pay. You give the cashier your empty cart and take the full cart of purchased items to a big shelf. There, you bag and box ’em yourself.
6. Ya want your quarter back? Return that cart, ya lazy lout.
The store operates in this way by design in order to keep prices low by saving on labor.
Aldi doesn’t fit into the U.S. grocery paradigm, where the expectation is low-wage workers will pick up your slack.
At first, I didn’t get it. I adopted fast for the prices.
I’ve fallen in love with Aldi.
Did you know Aldi is Trader Joe’s minimalist brother? Aldi, I knew I liked you.
Have you been to Aldi to shop for groceries? Why/why not? Will you give it a go? Aldi is in 32 states.