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Friday, November 11, 2011

1st Look: Aldi

Aldi

A reader writes in describing his first experience at the new Aldi grocery story that opened up for a preview today (grand opening tomorrow) at 901 17th Street.

I thought you might want to put on your FT blog that Aldi supermarket had its grand opening today. The prices are comparable or better than Safeway prices. The produce looks pretty good, and the selection is decent. It's obviously a much smaller space than Safeway, so it gets congested inside. They also require customers to bag their groceries in a baggage area near the exit (another opportunity for congestion). The only other downside is that they do not accept credit cards - only Debit, Cash or EBT (food stamps).

Having said that, the good things about the place are the prices, friendly workers (though they are not the workers who will continue there) and the competition it might spur with Safeway. I'd encourage your readers to check it out!

15 comments:

daphe said...

WTF is beer bread mix for 1.29?

npm said...

The Post did an article on this opening and several other planned openings: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/commuting/grocery-store-openings-boost-underserved-communities-in-dc-region/2011/11/10/gIQAyCEo9M_story.html

The jist is that Aldi is opening stores in underserved "food deserts." They didn't mention the fact that the Safeway is a block away. I guess that didn't quite fit in the "food desert" story.

Anonymous said...

npm-

I thought the same thing when I read the story! Since they just kept referring to the location as "northeast DC" I assumed it must be another Aldi opening today. The Safeway is definitely not my favorite place to shop, but our neighborhood hardly qualifies as a food desert.

oboe said...

They meant "food desert" in the sense that there's no CostCo, Sams Club, or Wal-Mart within walking distance.

Of course, by this measure 99.9999% of America is a "food desert".

Seriously though, I thought it was hilarious how they interviewed a bunch of folks who went on weekly trips to hyper-discout big box stores in the suburbs, and lamented that they didn't have anything like that within walking distance of their house.

Sorry, but if you want to live in the suburbs (within walking distance of the WalMart, no less) you should move to the suburbs.

a said...

no credit cards? wtf

John said...

Those photos in the Washington Post article (link provided by NPM) are from the Aldi that we are talking about here, at the corner of Maryland Avenue and 17th street.

Although Aldi doesn't accept credit cards (they may be trying to avoid the minimal fee assessed to stores that use credit cards), they do try to operate efficiently in areas where Safeway fails. I hope they can maintain the quick check-out process, for example.

inked said...

I went to the Aldi yesterday and it looked pretty good. They don't have everything you might want, but they did have a decent selection. Some items I saw/bought: prosciutto, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella. The prices were indeed low. They have pretty good hummus for $1.99. It was only their first official day open (and the place was packed), but the employees were polite, and efficient. That's not something I can generally say about Safeway. They also had these cool wooden train sets (19.99) that would make a nice Christmas gift. I would shop there again.

Dave B said...

prosciutto and fresh mozz? did we get like the upscale Aldi or something. i was under the impression they sold surplus war rations or something.

was it actual pork proscuitto and cow milk mozzarella, not like racoon or something.

i guess i'll have to check it out. do they have milk steak

John said...

Check them out, Dave. The mango I got was better than any mango I've had outside of the tropics.

dt said...

I heard someone describe it as the love child between Costco and Trader Joes. Based on my initial 5 minute visit, that sounds about right.

Tom A. said...

I just learned that the other 25% of the 75% fruit spread is soylent green!!

andrew said...

It's like a version of Murry's that doesn't suck.

Definitely not a place to shop if you're on a diet, and probably not one where you'd really be able to do *all* of your grocery shopping.

However, there were certainly deals to be had, and I'll definitely be returning in the future. Some of the items were indeed at "too-good-to-be-true" prices. Fresh mozzarella balls for $1.99, a dozen eggs for $1.09, a wide spread of cheap high-quality chocolates, 10lb bags of rice for $4.99, etc...

My eyes pretty much went wide when the (absurdly fast) cashier rung up everything in my order for less than $20.

Shame they're bringing in new staff though. No wonder I was so impressed by just how competent everybody working there was; they were hand-picked as the best-of-the best from other stores to impress others during the grand opening.

dt said...

andrew-

That seems to be pretty standard in the grocery business, as I recall both the new Harris Teeter in NoMA and the "sexy safeway" both used imported staff during their grand openings.

Anonymous said...

I grew up on the west side of Chicago and there was an Aldi that occupied a corner ner Lake St. and Austin Blvd., on the Oak Park/Chicago border for over 20 years until about a year or so ago. At that time, the neighborhood was more minority and the Aldi used to sell horrible generics. My mom and aunt used to go there to get just a few little odds and ends, favoring Jewel, Osco, or then a store called Buddy Bear (now obsolete). Back then, Aldi was not really found all throughout Chicago, but I ws actually surprised a few years ago in Chicago, to have found several in a few differing neighborhoods, even those that did not consist prmarily of minorities. I have a house on the west side of Chicago and do get an Aldi sales paper from time to time delivered to me. I have noticed the higher quality and more brand name items being sold. It would not surprise me if the NE Aldi had alot of eclectic or upscale-seemng items you might find at a Trader Joes or Whole Foods. When I first moved to the DC area 10 yrs. ago, I actually thought of Aldi when I first went to Trader Joe's, I thought that the store was full of generics because I could not find one brand name of anything in there. Not to say generic products are bad, but I immediately thought of Aldi...

From what I know, Aldi has always been a smaller store that did not have late night hours. You do have to bag your own groceries and it used to be in boxes before the signature orange, blue, and white plastic bags, which are heavy duty and seem to serve multiple good uses around the house. I haven't had the chance to visit the new NE DC Aldi, but eventually when I get a chance, I will venture over there.

I am NOT a fan of the Safeway over there because I find the staff very lacking in the areas of people skills and professionalism. Also, there are always issues with the registers being down or the shelves not being stocked often. I also think that the prices there are a bit higher than other Safeways I have shopped at, namely those in Alexandria and Falls Church. The quality of the baked goods is just not good, either.

American Apple Pie said...

Aldis is a cool way to stock up your kitchen and save money. Most of their product are the generic brand just like how most Groceries carry generic brands. Take some time out look at the ingredients, the generic is usually the exact same as name brand. Still not convinced? Compare the prices of product that you usually buy at Giant and Safeway to Aldis prices. The money saved is definitely significant!