You’re the new grocery store in town. You advertised for months leading up to the big grand opening, and being a SAHM with not much else to look forward to, I was anticipating your debut like a little kid on Christmas morning.
The verdict: I hate you. Hate you. And I’ll probably shop there once a month.
Aldi is the most mom-unfriendly grocery store I’ve ever been to. Ever. Previously that title was reserved for the grocer Fresh & Easy, or for any store within a city that has banned plastic bags (including but not limited to Home Depot, Kohls, and Dollar Tree), but Aldi’s innovative ways to make shopping more difficult for moms wins it the title.
Why I hate it so much (in order of shopping experience):
1. I hate that you don’t have cart corrals. I consider myself a smart parker. You won’t find me in the traffic jam at the front of Costco, waiting 10 minutes at a standstill for someone to pull out so I can take their spot close to the entrance. I don’t have patience for that. The fastest way to park in any busy lot is to find the spot that is closest to the cart corral that is farthest away from the store. There is usually one at at the very end of a line of parking spots. That’s where I park. This not only allows you to avoid the traffic close to the entrance of the store, but it minimizes the time it takes to pick up and drop off your cart.
Aldi does not offer this option. All carts are kept at the entrance of the store. So unless you find a stray cart floating around the parking lot, you have to waste time going through the following steps:
Get out and walk to front of store.
Pick up cart, walk back to car, put kids in cart.
Walk back to store.
And after shopping,
drop off groceries and kids at car.
Walk cart back to store.
Walk back to car.
Between pick up and drop off, this adds at least 8 minutes to your shopping trip, and that’s only if you get by without some mom-snob calling CPS on you for leaving the kids in the car while you walk to the carts.
2. I hate that you require a deposit for cart use. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal if it was credit card operated, but you make me put a quarter in to get a cart. Who carries change with them anymore? This weekend I went to Aldi without a quarter and had to wait at the entrance like a homeless person for someone to give me a quarter so I could check out a cart. Come on. Is cart stealing really that big of a problem?
3. I hate that you purposefully understaff. I get the idea: less employees, lower overhead, decreased food costs for customers. The problem is I’m shopping with 4 kids under 4 here. At some point, someone is bound to drop their sippy cup, pee on the floor, or spill a pint of blueberries. The latter actually happened last weekend and after being unable to find anyone around me to help, I ended up bending over and picking up 100 little blueberries off the floor myself. I made the mess, so I’m happy to help clean up, but isn’t there someone here who can get me a darn broom?!
4. I hate that you make me switch carts when I check out. I think this procedure was specifically developed with the intent to piss moms off. So I’m done cleaning up the blueberries and my anger has cooled from the cart situation, only to get to the front and have the checker ask me to take my kids out of the cart I’ve been using and put them into the empty cart at the end of the conveyor belt. What? Read that sentence again – I’m not exaggerating the process. I simply cannot understand the reasoning behind this. There is absolutely no chance it is faster for me to hold up the line moving kids from one cart to the other than to just let me keep the cart I paid for with the begged quarter.
5. I hate your bring your own bag policy. Sure, you’ll sell me a bag for one hundred times the cost of manufacturing it, but it’s the principle that irritates me. I just drove to your store and jumped through all kinds of hoops to shop here, and you’re going to charge me for the bags? That’s like a restaurant charging you for use of the forks. Absurd! Let’s be real. I’m a mom. It’s hard enough for me to make sure I have all 4 kids in the car – I’m not going to remember to bring a wad of used plastic bags with me.
6. I hate that you make me bag my groceries to the side. I’ve shopped at Food 4 Less for years, so I’m familiar with bagging my own groceries. What’s new for me is having to wait and do it in a separate area, away from the conveyor belt. So you wait idly at checkout while the checker loads the groceries, unbagged, into your cart. Then you walk over to a counter 10 feet away, take everything out of your cart so there is room for the bags, bag it, and put it back in the cart. Is this process supposed to save time? If it makes checkout go even twice as fast (which I would argue it doesn’t), you lose the time saved and then some doing the cart reorganization afterwards.
Clearly Aldi was not designed with the mom in mind. It’s pretty much the worst shopping experience of your life, and that’s even if you can manage to avoid a meltdown, a tantrum, or incessant whining from the peanut gallery.
But you know what makes me hate it the most?
I got apples there this weekend for $0.15 a pound. Not joking. FIFTEEN CENTS A POUND. What’s that, the 1916 price of an apple?
Deals like that are addictive. They make you feel good. They make you feel invincible, like you could do anything – even shop at Aldi! That’s why I hate it. I’ve tasted the sweetness of a good deal and now I’m addicted. I have to have more. So Aldi, you win. I hate you and love you in the very same breath. You won’t be my go-to, but you’ve earned a spot in the rotation. You’re the most inconvenient and the least mom-friendly store I’ve ever been to in my life, but I’ll be back.
Your newest disgruntled customer