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Friday, October 03, 2008


Worcester Needs an ALDI

ALDI is Trader Joe's low-rent cousin. The stores even share the same corporate parentage. But, while I often shop at the Trader Joe's in Shrewsbury, ALDI hasn't come to the area... yet. That will probably change, as the company is in the middle of a big U.S. expansion. Though the current economic crisis may change that, I suppose.

There IS an ALDI in Rhode Island...

...and there are several in Connecticut, one just outside Albany, and one out near Bennington, VT.

ALDI is headquartered in Germany, with stores all over the world. The quality of their goods is excellent, and their prices are stunningly low.

ALDI's store design is unique. The stores are small compared with Shaw's or Big Y or Price Chopper. The shelves are all very low, so you can see across the entire store.

It doesn't sound like much, but it gives the grocery shopping experience a very different feel.

Something else ALDI does that is kind of unique: you have to pay a quarter for your carriage.

It's just a deposit, really. You insert the quarter into a lock on the handlebar and it releases it from the chain that connects it to the other carriages. When you're done, you hook it back up to the chain and your quarter pops back out. It saves the company from having to employ some kid who would spend most of his time shagging carriages in the parking lot.

ALDI is also unusual in that, amid the potato chips and produce, they have weekly specials where they will sell things like laptop computers and car battery chargers and rain slickers and DVD recorders. All generally good quality, all at ludicrously low prices, and all brand names that you have NEVER heard of before. I am told that, in Europe, ALDI is famous for its canned "Mexikanischer Feuertopf", or Spicy Mexican Bean Soup, which is the Kraft Dinner of German consumer culture. I haven't yet seen it on US store shelves.

Basically ALDI is something of a cross between Trader Joe's and Price Rite. It's a budget saver where you don't have to sacrifice quality to save money. Highly recommended.

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