Aldi Grocery Store Review:
This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the most recent addition to the discount grocery chains available here in Southern California, the European grocery store “Aldi”. Aldi prides itself on being a discount chain where you can also find produce, staple items like paper towels and toilet paper, and a wide variety of discounts on major items like milk, cheese, and bread products.
Before visiting Aldi for the first time, I had read several articles about the store, and we decided that the closest location to us was the one in Fountain Valley- just off of the 405 freeway, and very close to neighboring Costa Mesa.
The first thing you notice upon entering Aldi is their policy regarding carts. Basically, you put a quarter into the cart machine, and when you bring your cart back after shopping, you get your 25 cents back. I’m guessing Aldi does this to save on labor costs, so that they don’t have to hire someone to go out and bring in the carts in the parking lot.
The next thing we noticed when we entered was the nice lady at the front of the store handing out free reusable shopping bags. I’m sure this was a limited time promotion since the store was still in “Grand Opening” mode, but it was still pretty great!
When you walk in the store, you notice that it’s not a “huge” store- not even close to being as big as a Sam’s Club or Costco size- in fact I would say it’s even smaller than a normal size grocery store. It’s about as big as a 99 cent store or Dollar Tree actually. Aldi doesn’t have everything you would find in a grocery store either, it doesn’t have any health and beauty products, a floral department, or other departments like butcher, bakery etc. It only has items on the shelves and the only other employees I could spot in the store were located at the checkout register.
The product selection at Aldi is rather limited to say the least. The make their own “name brand” of products and also have some other German brands, but they don’t have the normal selection of brands you would see at other stores.
Also, I was very unimpressed with this store’s selection of produce. After reading reviews of other Aldi’s which touted their “large selection of produce”, I expected something you would find a la Sprouts, but there were only two small aisles, and a lot of the produce didn’t look that fresh or appetizing. Either they are still getting used to their supply chain for this store, or they just don’t get fresh produce. I bought a pack of strawberries because it was so dang cheap at $1.29 for a large carton, but found that only 2 days later the strawberries had already started going rotten after being in the refrigerator. Normally they would last at least a week. So they must have been sitting on the shelf at Aldi for a longer time than normal.
The store also had roughly the same prices in nearly every department as the grocery store I normally shop at. I noticed only that their skim milk was very discounted at $1.79 a gallon, and also they had some loaves of bread near the 50 cent mark. But almost all the other products were not the “deep discounts” which had been advertised and highly praised in online articles.
The coffee selection at Aldi has several Artisan varieties from Italy and Germany so I may be interested in checking those out in the future. In addition, their beverage selection does offer a lot of reasonably priced wines and beers- although it was not nearly as large of a selection that one would find at Trader Joes- although the prices did seem similar.
Overall we left the store spending a lot less than I had thought we would, mostly because their selection was not what I had anticipated- we only spent $13. I thought there would be something more interesting to buy there but there wasn’t. Our items included:
1 lb bag of flour- $1.49
Strawberries 16 oz- $1.29
Yellow Peppers- 2 @ .69 each
Fruit rollups $1.00
Dried Cranberries- $2.49
Dried Mango- $2.49