Shoppers love Aldi, the popular budget grocery store chain that’s related to Trader Joe’s, made its mark overseas and seems to be gaining market share in the U.S. So I couldn’t wait to finally make the trip to Milford, CT to see the three-year-old store. I wasn’t wowed, but that won’t stop me from trying a second time.
My much-anticipated first visit to an Aldi store ended up in disappointment and only a few purchased groceries, a package of flexible cutting boards, and a lunch bag for my daughter. Maybe I was just unfamiliar with the private label stock, which I thought would be fine since I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s (to read about the confusing, long-term relationship between Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s ownership, click on this Forbes article.) My daughter thought the store was “depressing.” I thought it was cheerful, light and bright. However, there was hardly a soul in the store, and no one around that looked like they worked there (for more info on why there’s hardly anyone at the store, see this enlightening post from Cranial Soup’s blog). But I asked my daughter if she thought PriceRite was a depressing store (since it’s also a budget grocery store with similar policies of self-bagging, etc.) and she said, “No, PriceRite has more energy to it.” Maybe she reads auras, I don’t know, but as a frugalite-in-training, she remarked that the prices weren’t as good as PriceRite or ShopRite!
Milford’s Aldi store is clean and neat–much neater than most grocery stores. (I don’t care about ambiance–remember, I shop at PriceRite!) The grocery cart system does its job by keeping customers accountable about returning the cart to its rightful place. But where was all the great produce I heard so much about? The green grapes had a cloudy tan tint (too ripe, in other words) and no other prices matched PriceRite’s fruit selection, and I could have done a lot better at ShopRite. (I did read that the quality of produce varies in every Aldi store.) The store is definitely less expensive than Stop & Shop. I knew I wouldn’t find any organic produce there, so I gathered some inexpensive peppers wrapped in packaging (and I baked them tonight and they were just delicious) and a beautiful package of celery for $1.49 which is admittedly a lovely price.
Before my trip, I studied other people’s blogs about the store. I studied the store’s own website. I was looking forward to seeing prices for paper goods like toilet paper, but I did better this week at ShopRite on their toilet paper sale. I couldn’t wait to see the meat offerings (were there any there? I think I spotted a handful of meats in the back of the store….?), and I wanted to see their fish offerings (we came home with some frozen shrimp that we made for dinner, as well).
Though I read to stay away from the ice creams, I noted that its Belmont 48 oz carton cost $2.69 and on any given week with a sale and/or coupon, I can get a 48 oz carton of ice cream for $1 to $1.50 at ShopRite or even Stop & Shop, so Aldi’s selection was not a bargain.
I’m not 100% sold on the store, but I’m absolutely willing to give it another try. (I had high hopes when I visited a couple of Xpect Discounts stores ages ago, too, but I haven’t been back after trying several times to save money there.) Maybe if these stores were closer to me, I’d frequent them more often. But Milford is too far for me to travel for some savings. I prefer to stick to my beloved ShopRite which is right around the corner.
So I don’t know if I’ll ever become one of those fanatical Aldi shoppers, but I’m looking forward to my 45-minute trip to the Danbury Aldi later in the week. Stay tuned for more…
- What I learned from a job interview at an Aldi supermarket and why I will never shop there (cranialsoup.blogspot.com)
- 15 Of The Craziest Deals At Trader Joe’s (businessinsider.com)