By Kevin Williams
We talk a lot about the sprawling chain grocery stores, your Kroger, Hannafords, Publixses, Food Lions, etc. But there are other offbeat chains that have loyal followings.
Save-A-Lot, for instance, I just can't get into it. I've run into one out of desperation a time or two, but otherwise they just don't have brand-names and it's generally just not the most pleasant shopping experience. So, cue the next one: Aldi. Aldi is on my mind today because one of our good friends went there yesterday and was singing its praises.
A lot of people I know have told me at various times that I need to check out Aldi. One of our friends went to Aldi yesterday and was singing its praises so I'm once again thinking about that store. Our local Aldi, several years ago, moved from its dumpy digs into a larger, stand-alone, eco-friendly building. By the way, if we’re going to tie in the Amish to this discussion, the discount grocery store chain, not surprisingly, has a strong fan base among the Amish. Not uncommon to see buggies parked outside an Aldi in Three Rivers, Michigan and Wooster, Ohio.
Aldi has a cult following for sure. Perhaps I’m just stuck in the past with them, I know they’ve changed a lot over the years in upgrading their produce procurement and even stocking organics.
I did run in there a few months ago because one of our readers here told me they had some out of season “cuties” those delicious little oranges that make such good snacks. I did find some, but they weren’t the most flavorful. That wasn’t Aldi’s fault, it was that they were out of season. I found plenty of apples, but none of the fruits I like the snack on: melons, pineapple. The stores are a fraction of the size of a giant Kroger, so there’s no possible way they can stock as wide a variety. Although our friend Jessica points out that is partly the point: “You buy a lot less because there aren’t 100 types of chips to pick from like at Kroger.”
Can’t argue with that.
I guess I still am colored by memories of our dumpy Aldi. I still think you have to put a deposit in for a cart, which is kind of a hassle, but I know you get it back at the end. And they don't bag the groceries, right? I mean, I don't really care about that,but what do you do? Do you bring a box? Do you just throw it all in your cart and then put the stuff in your car? I don't know much about the bag situation at Aldi. I'm perfectly fine with no bags or baggers, but what do you do it in its place? I guess a grocery store is a place I want to go mindlessly and if I have too many questions going in, I'm not going to go.
Interestingly, Aldi also owns Trader Joe’s, a store that also is fraction of the size of a sprawling Kroger yet I also seem to find more of what I am looking for there than at Aldi. I don’t know if I am just being a food snob or what. On the other end of the spectrum is Whole Foods, a place where I'd happily shop each week if I were in a different tax bracket. So, anyone else have any Aldi thoughts? Good shopping experience for you? Bad? If I keep hearing good things about that place I'm sure I'll be persuaded to try it again....