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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

ALDI First Impressions


I dropped by the new ALDI supermarket on Putney Road today. The place was buzzing with people checking out products and prices, and staff were getting used to working in a new building. I had two immediate impressions of the supermarket.

First, the prices were low. Very low. Other supermarkets in the area should be worried about losing people looking for lowest prices. ALDI means business and appears ready to compete.

How low? Can of black beans was 59 cents. Bottles of wine under $5. Chicken breasts for $2.69 a pound. Pineapples for $1.29 each. Milk was $2.29 a gallon. And so on. Anyone looking to pay less will be in here.

The second impression was that I was on the set of a movie. While all of the products looked familiar, they were all different. It was as if a movie designer had gone through a supermarket and copied the look and feel of all the various products to avoid showing “’real” products in the film.  Kiplings lives on.

There are boxes that look like Triscuits, but they aren’t. There are packages that look like Oreo’s, but under another name. The sugared cereals all look like ones you’ve seen before, but they have very slight alterations to the packaging to reveal that they are other brands. The pasta box looks like Barilla’s, but isn’t.

Now, I’m used to generic packaging, and even knock-off brands, but this was wonderfully weird in the completeness of the illusion. They matched fonts, colors, sizes and shapes of lots of other brands for the in-house brand rather than stick with a single ALDI mark on everything. It was both familiar and disorienting.

There are a few name brands. I did see Coke for about a dollar for 2 liters.

There are boxed foods, canned foods, vegetables, meats, cheeses, dairy, and frozen items. They also have some appliances for sale (much like a drugstore sells coffee makers). A small version of something like Sam’s popcorn maker can be purchased, for example.

Overall, it’s clean, bright, and new, and the employees seemed to be happy and helpful on day one. 

Did you drop by? What do you think?

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Comments | 25

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Hmmm... I'm not sure how I

Hmmm... I'm not sure how I feel about the matching packaging - I certainly buy many generic or store brands -probably 1/3 of my grocery shopping is generic. But to try to make generic products look almost exactly like brand names seems..I don't know - maybe a little deceitful. I'm a huge Trader Joe's fan and their brand looks like their own packaging- they aren't trying to pretend to be something else. Some of the prices you mentioned seem good although Hannaford's and Pricechopper both offer boneless chicken breasts for $1.99 lb. at least twice a month. I'll certainly check Aldi's out and would probably buy canned goods there; tomatoes, beans, etc. But, will no doubt stick to the larger local markets and the Farmer's market for produce and meat.

 
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Both Trader Joe's and Aldi

Both Trader Joe's and Aldi are owned by the same German corporation. Trader Joe's is the 'cheaper' version of Whole Paycheck, while Aldi is their version of Walmart.

 
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Trader Joe's is owned by one

Trader Joe's is owned by one of the brothers in the family that owns Aldi's. My understanding is that Trader Joe's in not part of the Aldi umbrella but owned and operated separately. I don't think there's anyway you can compare Aldi's to Trader Joe's in either selection or quality. I'm not sure Aldi's will prove to be much competition for any of the nearby supermarkets including Walmart.

 
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Nach'l?

Chris -- what did you see in the realms of 'natural,' or 'organic,' or local? How about vitamins and supplements? Bulk? I hear their local mango stock is non-existent.

 
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local mangoes

Their local mangoes are bound to be next to their local coconuts.

 
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Doctor!

I put the local limes in the local coconuts and drink it all up.

 
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HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

You really made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

 
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Vegetables

I would go to buy the vegetables. They don't get the big subsidies.

 
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I liked it! I'll be there

I liked it! I'll be there weekly, no doubt, in addition to my regular shopping haunts (Hannafords, The Barn in Greenfield, and Ocean Lots)

 
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Aldi,s

There were some name brands like Tide and Bounty in limited size selections. I guess things are less expensive but I didn't really like the "cardboard" ambiance.Everything is clean and new (now). Be forewarned that they will not take credit cards. Cash or debit only.
You need to buy bags if you do not bring your own. You need to rent a cart for a quarter. I think you get that back if/when you return it?

 
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Checked it out

We stopped in for a walk through and then went back for regular items like lunch snacks. I thought I would try a few things. I think I'll stay away from the meat and produce. Produce is not kept fresh and in a cooler environment and not sure where the meat comes from. But for general staples you can save a few bucks.

 
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Horsemeat sold at Aldis

I believe you get what you pay for and this article confirms that.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/feb/09/aldi-100-percent-horseme...

 
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Not worse

If quality is a concern it seems to me that if one is willing to shop at Price Chopper then Aldi's shouldn't make much or any difference. Yes, a link here tells us of a bit of a horsemeat scandal in Europe but that kind of corporate food malfeasance is rife throughout the US and indeed the world, it seems. Watch the documentary Food Inc for one of hundreds that expose, literally and figuratively, the sickening state of commercial food production. Hopefully the lower prices at Aldi's is accounted for by the bare bones retailing style rather than food barely legal to consume. A fraction of the number of skus (number of different items for sale), far less stock actually shelved, minimal checkout areas etc. which all reduce labor costs appear to be reflected in the prices. From that angle Aldi's is a pretty positive development. It shows us a good chunk of supermarket costs are there for things we don't need. Nutritionally speaking it doesn't appear, at first glance anyway, that one will do any worse at Aldi's than PC.
I was there the first day and the atmosphere was pretty dreadful. Basically just a sterile unadorned cinderblock box. To be fair one should allow a year or two for the place to look a little lived in. Maybe the manager will find some cheap ways to improve the decor. If the manager cares. Or is allowed to do anything different from any and all of their other 9,000 stores. It also has to be admitted that one more concrete box on Putney Road hardly stands out. In fact it's a relief that our architectural garbage is still containing itself to that district. Until some other significant factor introduces itself I fear that our "strip" will forever remain the lost cause that it is now. Fortunately it is distinctly separated and distanced from the physical space we care about, our downtown. (I have my fingers crossed that West B. is going to save themselves. There are people out there with a lot of determination, energy and good ideas and so far it's going very well).

 
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I saw NOTHING that was Organic

I could not find anything that was organic.

I shop for some items at the coop once a week, just to support it but for most of my shopping, I will continue to shop at Price Chopper, and the Food Barn in Greenfield as both of those places appear to have a twin mission of selling food at affordable prices and offering organic produce.

Yes the eggs at Aldi's were .99 a dozen, but they were factory farm eggs, guaranteed to be laden with anti biotics and hormones.

Did anyone else see any organic produce at Aldi's ?

My guess is that Aldi's will knock out at least one store in town. My hope is that when the dust clears, Price Chopper will still be standing. It's actually the one that is probably the most vulnerable, at least that is my guess. That would be too bad, as it employs a lot more people than Aldi's, and offers organic produce.

 
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I'll be surprised, quite

I'll be surprised, quite surprised, if this store actually "knocks out" either Hannafords or Price Chopper. There really isn't much there at all that is competitive with their products since most of the Aldi's items are manufactured "faux" products and not real brands. They might make a dent in their overall profits but this store just really isn't that competitive with the other two.

 
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I agree that neither Price

I agree that neither Price chopper nor Hannafords are in any danger from Aldi's. Aside from the fact that they offer no organic or local foods,their produce is stacked in unrefrigerated boxes and the whole feel of the place is depressing, to my mind. I'm not surw why Pricechopper gets such a bad rap- that's where I do 80% of my shopping. Their prices are great; good produce selection, good sales to stock up on basics. I occasionally shop at Hannafords for a few things and probably once a month I go to the co op-mostly for bulk items and Brown Cow yogurt. I do shop at the Farmer's markets for some of my produce. With all of the businesses that would have been an asset to this town it's unfortunate that Aldi's was the one that came in.

 
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Some, scattered around

There wasn't any organic produce that I saw. They did have some different organic items like salad dressing, pasta sauce, some snacks, etc. I think it was called the Simply Nature line, although that line seems to be not only organic but natural foods as well. I remember the organic pasta sauce was $1.99/jar.

 
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If all else fails...

......maybe his brother ie. Trader Joes will buy him out, seems like the size of the space is sufficient, if you've ever been to the Hadley store it is usually packed with shoppers ( last time I went there was one parking space left and I got it)! I think Hannafords and Price Chopper would be affected if Trader's came to town in this case.

 
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Agreed, Trader Joes would be

Agreed, Trader Joes would be a big draw here.
I suspect you might even see the reverse of VT license plates in NH store parking lots.

 
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I so wish we had a Trader

I so wish we had a Trader Joe's in town. Good selection; good prices; good quality and they are known as one of the best companies in terms of employee benefits and treatment.They would certainly provide competition for the markets that are in town and would bring in additional shoppers from NH.
A friend of mine who works in their corporate office told me they have tried in the past to get in roads into Southern Vermont with no success.

 
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ME Too

I love the vibe at Traders, people are so nice and love the products with affordable prices, a cashier told me Traders has been discouraged from entering the Vermont market place, but I think South Burlington has recently given in due to demand!!

 
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PSA for ALDI

First bad experience at Aldi.

Ok if your someone who likes to use a credit card to pay for groceries...

YOU CAN'T DO THAT AT ALDI's!!!! I know they don't have much signage in regards to that policy and probably need to change that.

Here's the scenario. I'm behind someone who tries to pay with a credit card. They're distinctly told they're not accepted. So the cashier, instead of telling the person they need to wait and clear her order,sends us down to another check out and the person there immediately walks away. Leaving us standing there while the person who can't or doesn't read the signs gets coddled. A typical downfall of society I might add.

We left our items at the check out and walked out. They got a piece of our mind as we left.

So Aldi, if you read this please put up LARGE signs saying "CREDIT CARDS NOT ACCEPTED."

 
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I think it's reasonable to

I think it's reasonable to assume that a supermarket would accept credit cards. If Aldi's has not made an effort to make sure there is clear signage regarding their payment policies it is understandable that a customer would check out assuming they could pay with credit.It's standard procedure for a cashier to clear an order and then re ring it if there is a problem with payment. I'm not sure how this translates into "coddling" the customer. You agree that the store does not have adequate signage about not accepting credit cards so your slur about the customer who "can't or doesn't read" is just unneccessary. Seems like the fault lies with Aldi's - not the customer.

 
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Right. I left out a few details

Aldi is at fault for coddling the customer. However when the customer was told they couldn't use a credit card they shouldn't have insisted on having the cashier "try it" anyway. Especially after being told they don't accept them. Then she wanted an economics class on why Aldi doesn't take credit cards.

The right thing would have been to tell the lady "I'm clearing your order and unless you have the proper form of payment then put the stuff back where you found it and let the folks here pay with the proper form of payment."

But instead the person at fault was coddled and those who follow the rules get punished. Aldi lost a sale today and I went to their website to tell them how to improve their new store.

 
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I can see why this would have

I can see why this would have been annoying but again, I think the fault mostly lies with Aldi's. If you are a business who has restrictions on your payment policy you need to make that clear with easy to see signage in your store; additional signage at each register and maybe their cashiers need to be better trained at dealing with customers. If you don't take credit cards have your employees make that clear- don't "try" to take credit cards if you aren't equipped to take them. I imagine the restrictions on forms of payment in addition to the less than great produce; lack of organic products and few brand names will eventually mean that their customer base diminishes - I think people are probably going now because it's new.

 

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