A previous column discussed the first local Aldi store to open (in Delray Beach), and the merits of driving from anywhere in the county to save considerable money.
But saving money may get a little easier, now that a second Aldi has opened, this one in West Palm Beach. The company is based in Germany and is known for smaller, simply designed stores that focus mostly on food. The stores are generally around 15,000 to 20,000 square feet, compared to the 40,000 to 50,000 square feet featured in your average Publix or Winn Dixie.
Aldi offers nonfood items, including paper products, plastic bags and containers, small appliances and housewares (the West Palm store offered a tabletop convection oven, slow cooker, roasting pan and portable electric fireplace), pet food, household cleaners and health and beauty supplies. Most of the items Aldi carries are not well-known national brands. They are known as “private label brands,” and their ingredients and country of origin are listed, the same as national brands.
A visit to the new store offers a look at the pros and cons of shopping there and some things to remember if you decide to check it out:
- Bring a quarter for the shopping cart. The fee is designed to encourage people to return the carts where they belong. You’ll get your money back when you do.
- Bring your own bags (Aldi offers paper and plastic bags, but charges for both) and be prepared to bag your own groceries.
- The store accepts cash, debit and EBT. No credit cards are accepted.
- The stores's small size, along with the focus on a relatively small number of items, does tend to cut down on the amount of impulse buying you can accomplish.
- On the other hand, if you like to get all your grocery-plus needs met in one place (pharmacy, floral, deli, salad bar, hot food bar, etc.), you won’t get that done here.
- If you insist of having a lot of grocery choices, Aldi isn’t for you. If you are willing to eat off the national brand grid, then this is the place to shop. If you don’t like the product(s), you’ll feel better knowing you didn’t waste a fortune.
- Aldi does not offer a wide range of organic or gluten-free products. There are some Hispanic products (corn and flour tortillas, canned tomatoes, beans. Aldi sells a limited selection of wine and beer, but these will be brand names you don't know.
- The price signs are big and easy to read.
- Aldi offers a double satisfaction guarantee: if you are unhappy with anything you buy, return it with the receipt, and you not only get a replacement item, you also get a refund.
- The produce section is worth a stop. The variety isn't impressive, but the freshness makes up for it. And all items are labeled with country of origin. The meat selection included fresh Tyson and Butterball products, but all the seafood products (some domestic) were frozen.
Is a weekly trip to Aldi for you? If you're looking to save serious money on basic grocery items, want a fast shopping experience with minimal distractions and you're willing to try mostly private label varieties, then yes. If you're unwilling to buy anything but national brands, want ten varieties of apples and six brands of toilet paper to choose from and cannot imagine a grocery store run without a stop by the deli for a lunchtime sandwich, then Aldi is probably best reserved for an occasion when your budget is feeling week, but the month is still going strong.
Aldi, 2481 Okeechobee Blvd. (at Spencer Drive), West Palm Beach, FL. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. NOTE: the store is currently hiring.