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(Slate)   Slate discovers Aldi, the thriftier Teutonic brother to Trader Joe's   (slate.com) divider line 51
    More: Interesting, Americanized, University of Missouri-St, paid parental leave  
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1741 clicks; posted to Business » on 02 Dec 2013 at 5:50 PM (19 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-12-02 05:20:38 PM
Do not like those stores. Reminds me of a Germanic No Frills store. Or like Odd-Lot, just less cheerful.

Glad lower-income folks seem to like Aldi in NYC, though.
 
2013-12-02 05:52:52 PM
I thought TJ was German-owned, too. Maybe it used to be.
 
2013-12-02 05:54:25 PM
There's one of these near my grandfathers house in Detroit. I went there once and it felt like a DollarGeneral.
 
2013-12-02 05:59:46 PM
Aldi is a wretched hive of scum and villainy.  Buying produce there is similar to dumpster-diving.
 
2013-12-02 06:05:11 PM

SomeoneDumb: I thought TJ was German-owned, too. Maybe it used to be.


They still are. FTFA:

The Brüder founded their discount-store empire together. A disagreement in 1960 over selling cigarettes hastened a partition, and an epic game of grocery-store Risk: Theo would rename his business both companies operate stores in the United States-Aldi Süd operates as Aldi, and Aldi Nord as the now ubiquitous Trader Joe's.
 
2013-12-02 06:08:08 PM
They must not be in Cali...I've never heard of them.
 
2013-12-02 06:10:02 PM
The closest I came to Aldi was shopping at Lidl (a similar Germany-based grocery) in Finland. It was cheap, but the experience was less than awesome. I shop at TJ's several times a week. They also ship excess food to our food bank, so I am a fan twice over.
 
2013-12-02 06:31:04 PM
I went to Trader Joe's for the first time and didn't see anything special about it. Yet it was full of dumb upper middle class folks paying for "special" brands. I'm sticking to Aldi's.
 
2013-12-02 06:35:25 PM
Out here in the west, TJ's fits a nice niche between the extravagance of Whole Foods and the lazy indifference of Safeway
 
2013-12-02 06:37:05 PM
They are gaining in popularity in our area. The first location seemed to attract the dregs of the trailer park, but the second location is in a better part of town. I get my meat from the butcher, and assorted things I won't chince on, like coffee, bread, fruits and veges at the local market. But I have kids. We hit Aldi for eggs, milk, butter, pretzels, tuna, block cheese....we walk out of there with a full cart for $50. If I step into a Kroger and get the same crap, it's $130.
 
2013-12-02 07:04:01 PM
I've been to Aldi's a couple of times, the last in Indiana in the late 90s. I went to an Aldi's one time five or so years ago in which I think I had to pay to use the shopping cart and there were no bags, turned around said f*ck this crap and left. Bunch of processed foods anyway.

Not that TJ's doesnt have processed foods, but honestly, Aldi's is nothing like trader joe's.
 
2013-12-02 07:12:30 PM
Shop there all the time. Most things I like are great there. Usually good milk, vegetables, fruit, bread. Don't care for the bacon. Great for cheap cheese.
 
2013-12-02 07:13:40 PM
FTFA: Calm your hormones, meine Schatzis.

Well, a grocery store that speaks German can't be all bad.
 
2013-12-02 07:30:47 PM
Aldi: there's good and bad to it.  About three times a year I go there and just stock up on staples.  Around here, it's amusing because there's always someone in Amish/Brethren gear.  I figure, if you're shopping where they are, you're probably on the right track when it comes to thrift.

The author leaves out a few other of their distinctions:

No credit cards.  Saves them quite a bit on fees.  I have to remind myself of my debit card PIN before I shop there (it's literally the only place I use that PIN).

The barcode-laden labels.  Since everything is store-brand, they can slap 3-4 bar codes on their items, and thus their cashiers can fling items anywhichway.  Watching Aldi cashiers is a show on its own.

Limited customer service.  You'll never find an Aldi in the phone book, even in the white pages.  They do have a phone, but would really, really rather that nobody calls them.

From what I understand, the cashiers make pretty decent wages for the industry.  But, they work their asses off.  There have also been some (believable to me) accusations of age discrimination.
 
2013-12-02 07:46:49 PM
The thing I like most about Aldi is that they often locate in underserved areas, providing a much needed affordable grocery option for many people who otherwise would not have one.
 
2013-12-02 08:07:08 PM
I love the people who turn their nose up at Aldi.  They just refuse to understand that it's the EXACT same name brand food, just re-packaged in a store brand.  The milk provided is the exact same as whatever your local dairy is (we have 2, and I've seen both of their trucks deliver to Aldi).  Their meat is sourced locally (I know 2 butchers that sell to Aldi).  I know 3 people with farms that provide fruits/veggies to the local Aldi stores.  Their boxed goods (ex., box cake mixes) are Duncan Hines/Betty Crocker re-packaged.  Their potato chips are Lays re-packaged.  Their canned veggies/fruits are Dole/Del Monte with a different label.  If you've ever purchased a store brand from Publix, Winn-Dixie, WalMart, Kroger, Meijer, etc., you've purchased the EXACT same stuff they offer at Aldi.  I can walk in there, load up with a week's worth of groceries for $50, and get the exact same quality as going to Publix and spending $150 for the same items.  Keep your Trader Joe's and hipster stores, I'll drive the 7 miles to my local Aldi and save the extra money for spoiling my 1-year-old.
 
2013-12-02 08:23:53 PM

RepoManTSM: I went to Trader Joe's for the first time and didn't see anything special about it. Yet it was full of dumb upper middle class folks paying for "special" brands. I'm sticking to Aldi's.


Special brands? You sure you don't go into Whole Foods? TJ has a house brand, which are OEM'd from other sources usually. They only stock stuff that sells, so the product line is living. Good is of very good quality, and the prices reasonable. Excellent frozen fish. Or I should say excellent kept-frozen fish. Pretty much all fish is frozen, unless you know it was caught that day.
 
2013-12-02 08:24:40 PM
Good= food
 
zez
2013-12-02 08:28:12 PM
How can a Professor at University of Missouri-St. Louis just now hear of Aldi? They've been all over this area for for at least 30 years.
 
2013-12-02 08:28:42 PM

SomeoneDumb: I thought TJ was German-owned, too. Maybe it used to be.


The article said it was Aldi as well.

I thought it was Tesco (English), but whatever.

---

That bagging thing is annoying. Just have a proper double conveyour belt at the end so people have time to both pay and bag.
 
2013-12-02 08:39:41 PM

djones101: I love the people who turn their nose up at Aldi.  They just refuse to understand that it's the EXACT same name brand food, just re-packaged in a store brand.  The milk provided is the exact same as whatever your local dairy is (we have 2, and I've seen both of their trucks deliver to Aldi).  Their meat is sourced locally (I know 2 butchers that sell to Aldi).  I know 3 people with farms that provide fruits/veggies to the local Aldi stores.  Their boxed goods (ex., box cake mixes) are Duncan Hines/Betty Crocker re-packaged.  Their potato chips are Lays re-packaged.  Their canned veggies/fruits are Dole/Del Monte with a different label.  If you've ever purchased a store brand from Publix, Winn-Dixie, WalMart, Kroger, Meijer, etc., you've purchased the EXACT same stuff they offer at Aldi.  I can walk in there, load up with a week's worth of groceries for $50, and get the exact same quality as going to Publix and spending $150 for the same items.  Keep your Trader Joe's and hipster stores, I'll drive the 7 miles to my local Aldi and save the extra money for spoiling my 1-year-old.


I agree for most of this. Our Aldi meat, and vegetables leave a lot to be desired, however.
 
2013-12-02 08:55:14 PM
djones101:They just refuse to understand that it's the EXACT same name brand food, just re-packaged in a store brand.

I would even say that a lot of times it's better. When I went to Aldi, I was surprised to see the absence of HFCS from most of the products. For me, the presence of HFCS is usually a sign that the manufacturer is trying to save pennies, or they're using it as a cheap filler, or they're trying to cover something with the taste with its sweetness.
 
zez
2013-12-02 09:13:02 PM
I don't buy the bags or bring my own, I just grab one of the cardboard boxes all around and use those. The dog treats one is just about the perfect size and strength.
 
2013-12-02 09:18:07 PM

bdub77: I've been to Aldi's a couple of times, the last in Indiana in the late 90s. I went to an Aldi's one time five or so years ago in which I think I had to pay to use the shopping cart and there were no bags, turned around said f*ck this crap and left. Bunch of processed foods anyway.

Not that TJ's doesnt have processed foods, but honestly, Aldi's is nothing like trader joe's.


You...do realize that you get your quarter back when you return the cart, right?

/they do that so that people don't leave their carts in the parking lot. It's a labor cost-saving thing, and it seems to work.
//also, you can buy bags at the counter if you didn't bring your own. Or, just take any of the empty display boxes.
 
2013-12-02 09:47:40 PM
Out here we have:

www.frugallivingnw.com
 
2013-12-02 09:54:58 PM
Trader Joes has cheap wine and some good products but is always full of hipster folk.

Aldi is a cheap ass grocery store that is surprisingly awesome. If you like red bull i strongly suggest their "Red Thunder." it's pretty much redbull at less than half the cost; only $2.99 a 4 pack.
 I'm not much of a cook but what I have tried there has been surprisingly good. It's also nice they opened one down the street from me.
Aldi used to be reserved for the "hood" but now are moving into nicer areas.
 
2013-12-02 10:18:42 PM
My mom used to work at Aldi, until they dumped her for being too old.
 
2013-12-02 10:20:12 PM

djones101: I love the people who turn their nose up at Aldi.  They just refuse to understand that it's the EXACT same name brand food, just re-packaged in a store brand.  ...  Their boxed goods (ex., box cake mixes) are Duncan Hines/Betty Crocker re-packaged.  Their potato chips are Lays re-packaged.  Their canned veggies/fruits are Dole/Del Monte with a different label.  If you've ever purchased a store brand from Publix, Winn-Dixie, WalMart, Kroger, Meijer, etc., you've purchased the EXACT same stuff they offer at Aldi.


Not exactly. Store brands are often made by the same manufacturer as the name brands, and often in the same manufacturing facilities, but not usually with the same quality ingredients or always the same processes. A plant that makes cake mixes can buy flour or sugar or cocoa by the truckload from a supplier, but that supplier will usually bundle several grades of each commodity into each truckload -- "I can sell you 20 pallets of fine-grade sugar for $80 a pallet instead of $85 if you'll take another 20 pallets of medium-grade sugar at $40 each," etc. The manufacturer gets a break on price, and the supplier gets to unload the lesser grade stuff more easily.

Now, the manufacturer's contract with Betty Crocker specifies that he can only use the fine-grade sugar in that product, but since he's got the machinery to make cake mixes, he can contract with Safeway to run a second shift making Safeway-brand cake mixes with the medium-grade sugar, using the same machines and methods. The incremental costs of the extra shift are more than offset by what the manufacturer can make selling the extra mix to Safeway, and because the lesser-quality ingredients cost less, Safeway can price that cake mix below Betty Crocker. Everybody wins.

Other times, the manufacturer might tweak the manufacturing process to save some cash (maybe a shorter dough-resting interval, or skip a coating phase, etc.). The end result will certainly be similar to the name-brand product, but rarely is it the identical product in a store-brand package.

(Source: 3 summers in a factory that made both national- and store-brand paper goods. Different quality parent rolls of paper determined whether you were doing a national-brand run or a store-brand run.)
 
2013-12-02 10:20:35 PM

Bumblefark: bdub77: I've been to Aldi's a couple of times, the last in Indiana in the late 90s. I went to an Aldi's one time five or so years ago in which I think I had to pay to use the shopping cart and there were no bags, turned around said f*ck this crap and left. Bunch of processed foods anyway.

Not that TJ's doesnt have processed foods, but honestly, Aldi's is nothing like trader joe's.

You...do realize that you get your quarter back when you return the cart, right?

/they do that so that people don't leave their carts in the parking lot. It's a labor cost-saving thing, and it seems to work.
//also, you can buy bags at the counter if you didn't bring your own. Or, just take any of the empty display boxes.


You do realize some people don't carry farking quarters with them, right? Doesn't save me any time. Not worth the hassle.
 
2013-12-02 10:27:42 PM
From the midwest, we've had Aldi's forever (US HQ is Batavia IL).

My rule has always been, look at the back, if it's from France or Germany or another EU spot with higher quality laws than the US (not the UK), buy it.

If not, maybe try it.  When I was a broke student, the $2 frozen pizzas were better than the cheapest ones at Krogers.

I wish we had them in Asia.
 
2013-12-02 10:31:15 PM
We have the luxury of Aldi's, Woodman's, Pick'n'Save, Super Walmart, and Walmart Neighborhood Market within 1 mile of our house.  A couple of miles away are locally-owned Sendick's stores.

The things mentioned above are all true--Aldi's reflect the area they are located.  If they're in decent places they're much cleaner than those located nearer the ghetto--but isn't that same as any other store?  We start at Aldi's and save a ton over the rest, but they don't carry everything.  So we just go to one of the others for what we need to complete the list.

Seriously--we've saved thousands over the years.
 
2013-12-02 10:41:43 PM

fickenchucker: We have the luxury of Aldi's, Woodman's, Pick'n'Save, Super Walmart, and Walmart Neighborhood Market within 1 mile of our house.  A couple of miles away are locally-owned Sendick's stores.

The things mentioned above are all true--Aldi's reflect the area they are located.  If they're in decent places they're much cleaner than those located nearer the ghetto--but isn't that same as any other store?  We start at Aldi's and save a ton over the rest, but they don't carry everything.  So we just go to one of the others for what we need to complete the list.

Seriously--we've saved thousands over the years.


You must not be far from me.

I like Cerveks for produce, Woodmans for just about everything else if I want to take the drive (I'm in between the two in town) Aldis occasionally for dry goods, but I'd never buy meat from them. Ground beef in a tube and steaks with a puffy clear plastic covering them I just don't trust. Still buy my meat from Rupenas. Best butcher around
 
2013-12-02 10:57:41 PM

djones101: I love the people who turn their nose up at Aldi.  They just refuse to understand that it's the EXACT same name brand food, just re-packaged in a store brand.  The milk provided is the exact same as whatever your local dairy is (we have 2, and I've seen both of their trucks deliver to Aldi).  Their meat is sourced locally (I know 2 butchers that sell to Aldi).  I know 3 people with farms that provide fruits/veggies to the local Aldi stores.  Their boxed goods (ex., box cake mixes) are Duncan Hines/Betty Crocker re-packaged.  Their potato chips are Lays re-packaged.  Their canned veggies/fruits are Dole/Del Monte with a different label.  If you've ever purchased a store brand from Publix, Winn-Dixie, WalMart, Kroger, Meijer, etc., you've purchased the EXACT same stuff they offer at Aldi.  I can walk in there, load up with a week's worth of groceries for $50, and get the exact same quality as going to Publix and spending $150 for the same items.  Keep your Trader Joe's and hipster stores, I'll drive the 7 miles to my local Aldi and save the extra money for spoiling my 1-year-old.


That's Trader Joe's.  Except their stores aren't as shiatty.  Just as cheap, but without the homeless flavor.
 
2013-12-02 10:58:10 PM

zerkalo: Out here in the west, TJ's fits a nice niche between the extravagance of Whole Foods and the lazy indifference of Safeway


In the Midwest, when I lived in Minneapolis, we had Byerly's. Great grocery store, carpeted, full time butchers and bakers. Decent prices, a few cents more expensive on everything, but it lasted longer. I bought their organic milk, not because if organic or earth or something, but because the date was at least 3 weeks out on average.

Contrast that with the prices at Cub, and I saved money (through not wasting food) shopping at Byerly's.
 
2013-12-02 11:06:30 PM
I must in in your area as well with the Woodman's/Sendiks reference. There are both good and bad Aldi's in the area, mostly dependent on the location. I am impressed that they can also be cheaper than Woodman's on an exact same item. I.e. Pre washed potatoes in foil for the grill, same packaging, same name were $2 at Aldi's, and $4 at Woodman's. For reference, Woodman's is serviced by the same warehouse distributors as Sendiks. You are paying for the service at Sendiks.

As for Rupena's, I like Bunzel's far better, or if I am in the area, meisfields. Grash is also good on meats but more expensive.
 
2013-12-02 11:19:35 PM
gonzoduke
I trust you meant Cermak rather than cerveks?
 
2013-12-02 11:21:02 PM

RangerTaylor: Aldi is a wretched hive of scum and villainy.  Buying produce there is similar to dumpster-diving.


No kidding.  Here in Kansas every single Aldi is a compost pit.  It's the Miley Cyrus of food stores: broken, smelly and sticky.
 
2013-12-02 11:23:48 PM

bdub77: Bumblefark: bdub77: I've been to Aldi's a couple of times, the last in Indiana in the late 90s. I went to an Aldi's one time five or so years ago in which I think I had to pay to use the shopping cart and there were no bags, turned around said f*ck this crap and left. Bunch of processed foods anyway.

Not that TJ's doesnt have processed foods, but honestly, Aldi's is nothing like trader joe's.

You...do realize that you get your quarter back when you return the cart, right?

/they do that so that people don't leave their carts in the parking lot. It's a labor cost-saving thing, and it seems to work.
//also, you can buy bags at the counter if you didn't bring your own. Or, just take any of the empty display boxes.

You do realize some people don't carry farking quarters with them, right? Doesn't save me any time. Not worth the hassle.


I suppose if you weren't expecting it, that would be inconvenient. But, pretty much the only reason I used to shop at Aldi was because I loathe grocery shopping. The less time spent on it, the better. (The cost-savings were just an added perk.) I used to be able to walk in and walk out with a couple weeks' worth of groceries in under 25 minutes. Aldi is, if nothing else, brutally efficient.

Want 300 choices of toothpaste? Not a good place to shop. Wanna get your shiat, and get out? It's a dream...
 
2013-12-02 11:27:27 PM

SomeoneDumb: I thought TJ was German-owned, too. Maybe it used to be.


TJ's is an extremely secretive company, and they only begrudgingly acknowledge their connection to Aldi Nord's owner. Employees can actually get fired for talking about the source of private label goods or anything beyond the barest of details about the company leadership.
 
2013-12-02 11:52:59 PM
Know about Aldi since I was a kid. I agree you must go to better neighbor hoods to avoid the mess.
 
2013-12-02 11:54:41 PM
I went to our nearby Aldi and saw no problems with it. It's small, has the basics, doesn't cost much, and the cart gave me my quarter back.

And it doesn't surprise me to learn Trader Joe's is just Aldi in prettier skin.
 
2013-12-03 12:06:38 AM

Bumblefark: bdub77: Bumblefark: bdub77: I've been to Aldi's a couple of times, the last in Indiana in the late 90s. I went to an Aldi's one time five or so years ago in which I think I had to pay to use the shopping cart and there were no bags, turned around said f*ck this crap and left. Bunch of processed foods anyway.

Not that TJ's doesnt have processed foods, but honestly, Aldi's is nothing like trader joe's.

You...do realize that you get your quarter back when you return the cart, right?

/they do that so that people don't leave their carts in the parking lot. It's a labor cost-saving thing, and it seems to work.
//also, you can buy bags at the counter if you didn't bring your own. Or, just take any of the empty display boxes.

You do realize some people don't carry farking quarters with them, right? Doesn't save me any time. Not worth the hassle.

I suppose if you weren't expecting it, that would be inconvenient. But, pretty much the only reason I used to shop at Aldi was because I loathe grocery shopping. The less time spent on it, the better. (The cost-savings were just an added perk.) I used to be able to walk in and walk out with a couple weeks' worth of groceries in under 25 minutes. Aldi is, if nothing else, brutally efficient.

Want 300 choices of toothpaste? Not a good place to shop. Wanna get your shiat, and get out? It's a dream...


Heh. You're probably right, I wasn't expecting it. As far as loathing grocery shopping I'm the opposite, I love grocery shopping (I hate other kinds of shopping though). That's why I like TJ's. Plenty of choices, different foods, generally better food (with plenty of exceptions). My biggest problem with Aldi's, and granted my experience lately is limited...has been a lot of big name HFCS heavy highly processed foods.
 
2013-12-03 04:28:13 AM
I used to live in L.A. and had a TJ's just a block away - loved it.

Now, I have an Aldi's about a mile away and while it may not be TJ's, it's pretty damned good for the basics. I'm buying the same milk, eggs, chicken, produce, etc. as I would at any of the other super market chains n town, but paying about 30-40% less for them.  The one I shop is scrupulously clean and organized.

Many of their store branded products are certainly as good (in some cases better) than their national brand competitors and certainly at much better prices.   Routinely buy pineapples, oranges, apples, grapes at prices from 50-70% better than other local markets and the quality of their produce is just as good.   (for example, I usually pay 99 cents for a large pineapple at Aldi's, while even the local WalMart is charging $3.69 for something about 75% as large.)

And for those biatching about depositing a Quarter for a shopping cart, or having to bag your own groceries - you are going to turn down saving that much money for such little inconvenience?
 
2013-12-03 04:48:25 AM

lawboy87:

...

And for those biatching about depositing a Quarter for a shopping cart, or having to bag your own groceries - you are going to turn down saving that much money for such little inconvenience?


Yes, people will turn their noses up if a retailer doesn't offer at least a little ass-kissing along with the bagged bread. Because they're consumers, and deserve to be desired, dammit, look, we dressed up for this.
 
2013-12-03 05:09:14 AM
I like Aldi's.  I treat it as my convenience store.  Milk, eggs, chips (the best thing there), and surprisingly drinkable cheap wine.  The box goods and frozen foods are hit or miss.  And, as someone said upstream, the limited produce aisle is a crapshoot.
 
2013-12-03 06:58:21 AM

secularsage: SomeoneDumb: I thought TJ was German-owned, too. Maybe it used to be.

TJ's is an extremely secretive company, and they only begrudgingly acknowledge their connection to Aldi Nord's owner. Employees can actually get fired for talking about the source of private label goods or anything beyond the barest of details about the company leadership.


Yeah, see, none of these German origins for TJ was news to me. I just mentioned it because subby's headline implied Aldi's was somehow unique in that.
 
2013-12-03 07:23:23 AM
The one by me is a crap-hole. I'd rather go to TJs
 
2013-12-03 08:01:30 AM

exvaxman: gonzoduke
I trust you meant Cermak rather than cerveks?


Yes, you're right. My bad
 
2013-12-03 09:18:38 AM

Dickson Poon: From the midwest, we've had Aldi's forever (US HQ is Batavia IL).


Had them in the small Ohio town where I went to college.  Since they were cheap, they had a parking lot for cars, and a long hitching post for Amish buggies.

Used to get stuff for the annual cookout there.  Nothing beats 20 hot dogs for $5.  Wash it down with $0.17 soda.
 
2013-12-03 02:29:56 PM
Reminds me to stop at Aldi's on the way home tonight.  I'll use my re-usable Aldi's tote bag for shopping and toting home.
 
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