A bargain hunter looks at ALDI
By Amy French Habart The Daily Times
Friday marks a very special day in the lives of Blount County bargain shoppers. It is the grand opening of the new ALDI store in Alcoa.
Having shopped at locations in Nashville and Memphis, I am familiar with the type of items they carry and their unique approach to grocery shopping.
If you have never shopped at an ALDI, there are definitely some things you need to know before going this week.
Perhaps the most important thing to note is that almost every food item is generic. These are private-label or store brands that you have probably never heard of.
Contrary to the questionable quality of some generic brands, ALDI’s store brands are lower in cost than most generics and have a reputation for being comparable to name brands in quality.
Staples like eggs, bread, milk, and butter are usually cheaper than even the sale prices you will find at most grocery stores. Meat, produce and frozen foods are also lower in cost.
There is no risk in trying the ALDI brand of any item. They offer a double money-back guarantee, which means they will both refund your money and replace your item if you are unhappy with it for any reason.
While ALDI is a virtual unknown in East Tennessee, don’t misjudge them to be a small company. In fact, they have over 1,000 U.S. stores and international locations in 17 countries.
Their headquarters is in Germany, which is of little importance unless you like German imports. This is actually one of the primary reasons I am so excited about their arrival. I have purchased European packaged cookies and pastries that are nearly impossible to find elsewhere.
In addition to stocking primarily generic items, ALDI has some other interesting features that set it apart from the average grocery store.
In an effort to reduce expenses, they do not offer some of the services that we are accustomed to receiving. For example, grocery store carts require a 25-cent deposit for use, which is refunded when the cart is returned. This saves the company from paying staff to collect carts from the parking lot.
Also, ALDI does not provide grocery bags nor do they bag your groceries for you. For those that do not want to bother with bringing their own bags, they can be purchased for 10 cents each.
You will notice on your first trip to ALDI that the store is smaller than the average grocery store. This is due to a decrease in both the types and variety of items offered. Besides the lack of brand name options, you will also find limited sizes and varieties.
You will also notice items presented in a style similar to wholesale clubs like Sam’s where you select items from boxes instead of getting them from a shelf. Again, this keeps them from paying employees to stock shelves.
There is usually a small section of the store that includes nongrocery items. These vary and appear to me to be random in nature, but priced well.
In the tradition of keeping costs low, ALDI does not accept credit cards. Payment options are cash, debit and EBT cards.
They do not accept manufacturer coupons, but they would not be valid on most items anyway.
If you are not a slave to name brand products, I encourage you to give ALDI a try this week. With a double money-back guarantee, what have you got to lose? Don’t forget your quarter.
Amy French Habart is a Maryville native who writes and speaks about bargain shopping and living well on a small budget. She offers more tips and tricks on her blog, http://www.cheaptricks.blountblogs.com and can be contacted at (firstname.lastname@example.org)