January 29, 2009

I'm an Aldi Girl

I used to sniff at bare-bone ALDI stores in low-rent districts, which I ignorantly presumed sold little more than pork 'n beans and white bread.

That was before I read The New York Times article about the private company's business model and its "[sudden emergence] as a major force." An Aldi snob I am no more.

I became a believer and now I drink the Kool-Aid.

Plus, the owners are just out-and-out intriguing: "...octogenarian German billionaires Theo and Karl Albrecht reportedly live on the island of Föhr in the North Sea, where they are said to collect typewriters, play golf and tend to orchids. In 1971, Theo was kidnapped for 17 days, and the brothers have kept a low profile ever since."*

What's awesome about ALDI:
  • Low carbon footprint. Not a plastic grocery bag in sight; it's BYOBag
  • Self-serve shopping carts you lease for 25 cents; refundable upon return
  • Quality foods and options well beyond dried noodle packets
    • Pure vanilla bean extract, not just flavoring
    • Hickory smoked, peppercorn or maple bacon
    • Bacon-wrapped turkey mignon
  • No bank facility, barista service, DVD rental, snack bar or floral shop: just food
  • Only one size and one selection of everything, which means I never have to think! Shopping goes so much faster
    • No decisions between brands
    • No hedging on whether to get small, medium or large
    • No mental price calculations between brands or quantities
  • Occasional sightings of Kellogg's, Welch's and Nabisco products, if you need that
  • No stylized displays by designers attempting to mimic an outdoor Tuscan market
  • No shopper discount cards to mess with; no need for coupons (Aldi offers its own brands)
  • Never inflated costs from credit card interest; cash and debit cards accepted only
  • In my experience: produce consistently fresher than at a nearby specialty chain grocer
  • Cheap: really really low prices per equivalent quality elsewhere
You know Office Depot's red "Easy" button? That's ALDI: simple, easy and smart. Locate a store near you.

*"The Allure of Plain Vanilla," The New York Times, September 6, 2008
[Photo 01-12-09, 2600 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago IL]


  1. I just found your blog from the Thrify Fun website and thought I would stop and say hi! I, too, love shopping at Aldi...which didn't start until last summer! It's fast, easy and cheap..which is the best part!

    I added you to my favorites, so I'll be back to visit! My blog is http://countryvintageblog.blogspot.com/. Stop by when you have time!


  2. I was once an Aldi snob too and was scared of the one on Clybourn. Then we moved close to the one on Montrose and started stopping in out of convenience. I have just three warnings. Their milk can be expensive (or the same price as Domick's). Some of their food can have Trans Fat (choices may not be extremely healthy). Their produce has a short life span. Otherwise, big fan. I have heard that they are owned by the same people that own Trader Joe's?

  3. You are so right, Anne! I don't remember that from the NYT article, but here it is:

    "The brothers split the business in two in the early 1960s, after a disagreement over whether to sell cigarettes...In 1979, Theo Albrecht bought the Trader Joe’s chain, which shares Aldi’s small-store format, its reliance on private-label brands and its reputation for value, albeit in a hipper and more upscale way."

    Interesting, because Trader Joe is my other most-favored grocer.

  4. Thanks for highlighting Aldi's, Sharon! I've been a big shopper their since moving back to Chicago after college. Maybe I'll see you soon in line!