Everything you want to know about Aldi

 

Today Aldi is having the Grand Opening for the new store in Woodbury at the former Borders location at Tamarack Village.

Aldi, short for “Albrecht Discount,” is a German global discount supermarket chain based in Germany. The name may be unfamiliar to many Woodbury residents, but I have known Aldi for 26 years.

Back when I was a student at the University of Heidelberg in Germany from 1986 to 1991, I used to shop at Aldi in my neighborhood. I could walk or bike there.

Comparing to grocers in the US, such as Cub Foods or Rainbow in Woodbury, Aldi is a lot smaller, one reason being that Aldi is located in residential areas in Germany, not in shopping malls where people have to drive to get there.

The reasons that Aldi is able to offer low prices include:

  • No free shopping bags, customers have to bring their own bags or pay for them,
  • No customer services desk, cashiers offer help if needed,
  • No one to answer phone calls,
  • No manufacturers’ coupons accepted,
  • No big parking lot,
  • No employees to collect the shopping carts left by customers. Customers have to bring a quarter in order to get their shopping cart. They get the quarter back after they return their cart to the cart station,
  • Use of private brands,
  • When business is slow, cashiers help with other duties, thus saving labor cost,
  • Saving space by leaving items in the original boxes, not displayed on shelves,
  • Limited offering and choices (1,400 regularly stocked items), especially with fresh produce.

By keeping the cost down, Aldi is able to pass the savings along to the customers.

I learned something new about Aldi this summer when I visited Berlin, Germany.

I noticed that the Aldi stores in Berlin use a different logo, it’s in blue and not orange color as I saw in Heidelberg and in the US. Later I found out that there are actually two Aldi groups in Germany, one in the south and one in the north. Each also has companies in different countries around the world.

Here is some background information:  

The Aldi family business started in 1913. In 1960, two brothers, Karl and Theo Albrecht split Aldi into two separate groups: Aldi Nord (North – operating as ALDI MARKT) and Aldi Süd (South – operating as Aldi Süd). Both companies are family-linked, while legally and financially independent.

In the United States, Aldi Süd operates the U.S. stores (more than 1,200 stores in 31 states) with the Aldi logo in orange color. Aldi Nord is the parent company of Trader Joe’s.

Aldi’s mission is to offer “high quality at low prices,” to give customers “the highest quality food at the lowest prices possible.”

It seems hard, if not impossible, to have the two go hand in hand.

If you want to save some money on groceries, Aldi is definitely the place to go. But if the highest quality is your concern, I am not so sure Aldi is the best place to go. Aldi’s competitive advantage is on the lowest cost, not the highest quality.

The good news is, Aldi offers both in Woodbury, low price through Aldi and high quality (more organic items) through Trade Joe’s.

Personally I think Aldi’s quality is as good as the other grocers’. In fact, my kids said they liked the frozen pizzas from Aldi better than those from the other stores.

I have to admit I am not in the best position to judge Aldi’s quality, or anyone else.

It’s certainly worth to check out the new Aldi store. I plan to go this weekend.

Don’t forget to bring your quarter and bag.

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