I've mentioned before that I'm struggling here in Bartlesville to find a grocery store I really like. One is too expensive (although I like it a lot), one is kind of yucky and has a poor selection, and one is just too far away to make a regular place.
And then there's ALDI.
I'd read for years on various blogs that ALDI is great for saving money and has good-quality items, even if it's inexpensive and bare bones. So when we moved here, I gave it a try. Truthfully, if I hadn't read so much online about how great the store is, I likely wouldn't have given it a second try. On first glance, it doesn't look very worth one's while. But I dove in and started trying things.
I like it. I like it a lot, actually. Here are a couple of reasons:
If you'll notice the little circle to the right in the first picture, you'll see that it says, "No MSG." The second pic shows candy with all-natural food coloring, meaning no Red 40 dye. MSG and Red 40 are both migraine triggers. When shopping cheaper stores, one doesn't expect to find products without chemicals, and yet, ALDI has tons of products that I can eat. That's huge for me, especially considering I'd often pay twice the price of the above pictured for all-natural licorice at Sprouts or Whole Foods.
I don't find a huge taste difference in ALDI's products from name brand. Their corn chips aren't a dead ringer for Fritos, but it's pretty darned close. Their version of Cheez-its? No difference in taste whatsoever. And yes, my husband and I compared.
Okay, their paper towels are lousy. Just saying.
But here's what really made me a loyal customer: they actually respond to complaints and do something about them. A couple of weeks ago I went to the store, and I was frustrated that I couldn't access any carts with non-broken baby straps. If you're not aware, ALDI chains their carts together, and you have to pay a quarter to get one out. You get your quarter back when you return your cart. I have no problem with that system. I had a problem with the fact that the few carts I could see with non-broken straps were way back in the cart queue, and I would have had to have a pile of quarters out and no baby in my arms to pull out cart after cart to get to one of them.
I held onto Alex, who wants to move constantly these days, while I shopped. But I needed both hands to unload my cart. I couldn't hold onto him while I did that. While I unloaded, my kid nearly fell out of the cart twice. Had I not been watching him closely and been quick to catch him, the result could have been tragic. I left the store extremely angry.
As soon as I got home, I sent an email to ALDI about the situation and just let them know that while I like the store, I couldn't continue shopping there as it was unsafe for my baby. I expected a form letter back, at the most. Instead, I received a phone call the very next day from someone at corporate. She apologized for the situation with the straps and assured me that she had straps that she was sending to the Bartlesville store that week, so the next time I went in, I should be able to strap Alex in.
And you know what? I went back today, and sure enough, every cart had brand-new baby straps on it. Alex was safely secured, and we were able to shop without incident.
That is how you make a loyal customer. Add me to the legion of bloggers who love ALDI.