Aquarter for a cart. That’s hard for many shoppers who are new to Aldi to grasp, both as a concept and a reality – you’ve got to dig up an actual coin to even use a shopping cart. (Who even carries coins these days?)
That’s one of the reasons you have to plan to go to Aldi. It’s not a drop-in-and-meander-the-aisles-with-your-regular-shopping-list kind of store.
There’s a strategy to shop Aldi to find the kinds of deals and gotta-haves that inspire Facebook groups of thousands gushing about what they scored on their Aldi excursions. And don’t fret, you do get your quarter back once you return the cart to the corral. (For the record, Aldi says not having to pay staffers chase carts helps keep prices low. So digging up a quarter isn’t such a bad deal to save you some dough.)
And it was the low prices that turned me into an avid Aldi shopper six years ago and why my anti-shopping dad ventured into an Aldi store nearly two years ago, even if he fumbled the whole cart thing at first.
Aside from taking a quarter, which I always keep handy in my car solely for Aldi, here’s what you need to know before you get to the parking lot.
As I mentioned, Aldi isn’t your average supermarket. It’s smaller, leaner and greener.
Aside from needing that quarter, which is not a foreign concept with many stores in European countries also renting carts, you should wrap your head around this: You’re going to bag your own stuff – as if you’re at Costco, Sam’s Club or doing self-checkout.
And there are no free bags. You should bring your own. Bags cost up to 10 cents each and stores also sell reusable bags and often have boxes available to take your groceries home in. Hey, it’s not a bad idea to be in the habit of keeping reusable bags in the car or even put an extra laundry basket or creates for easier transports.
Oh, and don’t expect to call a store to ask about inventory or hours. Aldi stores don’t have phone numbers. You read that right. This can make it more difficult to score a limited deal without having to drive around to multiple stores.
“Rather than hire extra staff to answer phones and retrieve carts, our employees stay focused on serving our shoppers in stores,” the company said in frequently asked questions on its website. “This saves us money, but more importantly we pass those savings on to our customers.”
There are currently over 2,000 Aldi stores across 37 states, with new locations concentrated in Arizona, California, Florida and the Northeast. The company says it’s on track to become the third-largest grocery retailer by store count by the end of 2022.