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9 things to know before your first trip to Aldi

9 things to know before your first trip to Aldi

Theo Thimou December 4, 2017
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2018 is going to be a big year for Aldi!

The German discount grocer plans to build up store count from about 1,600 locations to nearly 2,000 in the new year.

Aldi promises to meet or exceed national brand quality and save you 50% versus the competitors. But shopping at Aldi can be a polarizing experience.

For every person who loves the low prices, you’re likely to find others who can’t hang with the grocer’s no-frills approach to  shopping.

If you’re thinking about giving Aldi a shot, read this first!

RELATED: 9 things to know before your first trip to Costco

Here’s what you to know before heading to Aldi

1. The store doesn’t accept manufacturer’s coupons

Frozen foods at Aldi

You won’t find many name brands at Aldi. Store brands are central to what keeps Aldi’s price so low, so it follows that the store has a no-manufacturer’s-coupon policy.

2. You’ll occasionally find a store coupon in the mail

If you live in a zip code where Aldi is opening a new store, watch your mailbox.

You’re likely to see a flyer that looks like this one show up in the days before the grand opening:

3. Be prepared to rent a cart when you get to the store…

…or a “buggy,” as it’s called in the Southeast!

A shopping cart rental costs a quarter, which you put directly into an attachment on the cart’s handle. Think airport luggage cart rentals and you’ll get the basic idea.

This is another way Aldi keeps prices low. They put the responsibility of rounding up and returning carts on customers. That means they don’t have to pay an employee to do the job.

4. Be prepared to bring or buy your own bags

You won’t be asked to choose between paper or plastic at the end of an Aldi checkout line, because bagging is optional.

Here’s what to expect: As your groceries are being rung up, the cashier will simultaneously stack them with little fanfare into a waiting cart. Then it’s up to you to bag your groceries if you wish, depending on how much stuff you buy.

Bags are offered for sale at checkout, but the smarter move is to bring your own reusable bags.

5. Some produce is now being sold by the pound

Much to the disappointment of savers, there’s a been a quiet change to the way produce is sold…

6. Your purchases are backed up by the Aldi double guarantee

A lot of shopping at Aldi is about trying out new products, particularly the German food imports and seasonal foods.

Fortunately, that’s something you can do without fear for your wallet because of the store’s return policy.

If you don’t like something you buy, simply bring it back in its original packaging and you’ll get your money back, plus they’ll replace the product for free.

Exclusions include non-food ALDI Find items, alcohol, national brands and non-quality related issues.

7. Look for seasonal deals in the middle aisle

Because Aldis are generally smaller stores, it’s easy to spot the middle aisle when you walk in.

Just look for the spot stuffed with a lot of seasonal merchandise that’s constantly rotating through.

This is where you’ll find some of the best deals in the store!

During a recent trip to Aldi, Clark.com spotted some great deals on LED Christmas lights starting at $3.39 for a 50-count strand.

RELATED: You won’t believe how much money LED Christmas lights can save you!

8. Aldi and Trader Joe’s are corporate cousins…

Trader Joe’s is owned by Aldi Nord, a German company that runs Aldi grocery stores throughout Europe.

Aldi Nord’s sister company, Aldi Sud, runs Aldi stores in the U.S., which puts them on different branches of the same family tree.

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9. …and they both have a passion for cheap wine!

Actually, when you think about it, Trader Joe’s and Aldi have a similar business model, There’s a common emphasis on private labels and a limited selection.

One area where you can see even more overlap is in the wine aisle.

Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck” (aka Charles Shaw wines) has legions of fans. Though they’re lesser known, Aldi’s wines are affordable and tasty, too.

One of Aldi’s house brands they’re really pushing right now is called Winking Owl. It prices out at $2.89 a bottle.

Check out these $15 sneakers from Aldi

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Theo Thimou is director of content for ClarkHoward.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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