Photo from Aldi.us
So, I went to Aldi today very nearly terrified (also perhaps because of other relatively terrifying things I need to do today all compounding). I found it okay, which was a plus, and since I’d often watched people outside the Aldi next to my bowling alley, I had a pretty good idea how to handle the shopping cart thing. I was not prepared for entering the store, however.
My first thought was, “Holy crap, this place is tiny, I’ll never find what I need here.” It wasn’t until I drove home that it occurred to me why Aldi is so small compared to your average grocery store. Think, for just a moment, how many brands of potato chips there are out in the world. Your average grocery story probably stocks at least 4 different brands of ONE kind of chip. Multiply that by every single type of item in the store, and you’ve got yourself some major real estate. Aldi keeps it simple by having one brand… Maybe two if they happen to be carrying a national brand at the moment (when I walked in there were Pringles right inside the door, and I also saw Aldi’s house brand a few feet away).
There are, essentially, only four aisles in the Aldi I went to. I imagine it’s similar at every other Aldi store, since they utilize pre-fab architecture most retailers have today. The aisles are stacked with cases of items–think Sam’s Club, but on a much smaller scale. There is sort of a logic to the layout, but it isn’t the same as most groceries. For me this made it hard to find stuff. However, now that I have an idea for it, I’m confident that I will now be wandering back and forth, not because I don’t know where things are, but because I forgot to look for something when I went past it, which is exactly what I do at every other store I shop at.
I’m happy to say that I had 16 items on my list and I was able to purchase all but two of them. The reason I couldn’t purchase those two is because they were brand-specific: Act Total Care mouthwash and Gillette Fusion blades for the Hippy. This was easily solved by a quick stop to CVS.
I’m not exactly sure how much I saved–I haven’t, and likely won’t, sat down to do the math. My 14 items came to just under $28. Maybe those same items would have been pushing $40 at Cub, but I’m not sure. If I find a receipt lying around, I’ll try to compare. One thing I know for sure is that The Hippy’s razor blades cost more than my shopping trip. Good thing I only have to buy those every few months (and good thing I get to take stuff like that out of what I owe for rent and utilities…)
Ultimately, I do think I will keep going back. Especially if I notice a big difference in my grocery bills. The real test will be when it comes time to buy meat, so perhaps I will report back.