Apr 3, 2009

Is It Worth The Drive?

Don't you hate it when you just found the bargain of the century and you are telling people about it and someone starts in with "the questions" you know the questions the questions that diminish your joy. The questions you never think about because frankly who really cares that you could possibly save money by not driving so far? I mean I hear all the talk....gas...cost...time...blah blah blah but no one has really ever sat down and written the numbers out and proven it. It honestly would take a lot of work. And by the time you figure it out you could have saved time by just driving there and acquiring the bargain, right? It always turns into the mother of a story problem and I guess what it comes down to is what is important to you. And no one can tell you that...thank goodness. So with that introduction let me tell you my story problem and feel free to comment on how ridiculous I am but just know that I will not mind because I am SO supremely happy at my discovery that no amount of math can make me question my decision.

The story starts in Kansas in about 1995 when I have just moved to Kansas and I am sitting in a room with a few women and they are telling me about places to shop in town and they are trying to describe this particular store to me and I am wondering at what is so hard to describe about a grocery store? But this grocery store you HAD to take a quarter for your cart and you HAD to have cash and you HAD to have your own way to get the food out of the store. It sounded like a lot of work to me at the time because I had SO many little kids and it was not easy to get to the bank to get cash and then the thought of having to park away from the shopping carts about killed me. But a lot of people shopped there and they could not stop talking about the great prices this store could offer to them because of the cost cutting measures it made. Luckily for me the town we lived in had a couple other stores that had very reasonable prices so I did go to Aldi when I could but I did not HAVE to. So I guess you would say I was a "surface" believer in shopping at Aldi....I did it sometimes, when it was convenient.

Then when we moved to Indiana there was an Aldi in our little town of Huntington. But there was a Meijer in Fort Wayne. And Meijer had amazing produce and great sales so I only went to Aldi for canned stuff, flour and sugar. Again, I still did not NEED Aldi. I had other options.

Then we moved to Massachusetts. My husband warned me before I even moved here that there was not a cheap grocery to be found in the state. When he started spouting crazy talk about the fact that it was cheaper to buy milk at a gas station in Massachusetts I just tuned him out and did not believe. But when I got here and started checking out my options I just felt one word...despair. And I wondered how could Massachusetts people be taking this sitting down? Then I slowly realized they do not even know what they are missing. All of a sudden I realized how I had taken Aldi for granted. I needed an Aldi. So I muddled through for a year and a half....embracing COSTCO? And refusing to enter the high priced grocery stores in town unless extremely desperate. (chocolate :) Finally one day I sit down at the computer and decide that for spring break my only goal is to find the nearest Aldi. Even if I have to drive 8 hours to Pennsylvania to my sister's house where I know there is an Aldi I am doing it. I have hope that maybe there is an Aldi by some amazing historical site so that the kids do not have to tell their friends that for spring break they, "went to find a cheap grocery store with their mom."

But simply by googling, "Aldi locations" and typing in my address on their "magic page", guess what I discovered? There were Aldi's all over Connecticut. Oh my gosh why did I not think of Connecticut?......HAPPY DANCE!! I live 20 minutes from Connecticut!! The closest Aldi was 26 miles away. I quickly called my friend, who moved here from Illinois at the same time I moved here from Indiana, who I had had a few deep meaningful conversations about the lack of Aldi's with, and we decided we must go immediately. I tried to convert some other friends but no luck. It is like sharing the gospel your heart has to be ready for Aldi :)

We went on our adventure on Thursday morning. It was a pleasant 26 minute drive to our destination and we were so happy to see that this was a BRAND SPANKING NEW ALDI....it was beautiful and we were like two kids in a candy shop exclaiming over prices to each other, lovingly reuniting with items we had long missed. Our carts were VERY loaded when we were done. It was so refreshing to not have to agonize over produce prices and to buy 24 cans of cream of chicken soup for $11.76.

Did you know Aldi is a supermarket chain that is based in Germany? Aldi came to the United States in 1976 and some of the practices that it practices (like inserting a quarter to get your cart) that we consider strange are very common in Europe where there are a lot of Aldi's. Their no frills approach makes it so you can save so much money. The owners of Aldi are the richest men in Germany, so rich that they bought the chain Trader Joes in 1978. Aldi's main competitors in the United States are Price Right and Save a Lot. They are often ridiculed for being "cheap shops" and selling poor quality goods but throughout the years they have developed a strong following and being held in such low esteem by many has not dented their profits in any way.

So if Jennifer drives 29 miles to East Hartford CT wearing her stylish black sweats and purchases $147.00 worth of food from Aldi and then drives back home and for the first time since moving to MA has full cupboards and fridge and happy children is it worth it to try to figure out how much she spent on gas? Probably not...we have already made plans to go to Aldi every other Thursday so be sure to tell me if you want to come. :)


DeAnn said...

I would love to join you. Too bad I'd have to pay so much to check all those groceries on a plane to get them home! We have a Smith's. ONE grocery store, that's right. Imagine what that does for prices. ;)

Jenn said...

I ♡ Aldi!

Brianne said...

I have never heard of Aldi...but it sounds pretty exciting. I'll have to check it out one of these days. I usually go to the Super Walmart to grocery shop...but it's in Chicopee, and I've noticed their prices are starting to sneak up!

Bernd and Rachel said...

I'm so glad you found an Aldi Jenn! 26 miles doesn't seem that far. Does this mean you won't come visit me now that you have your own Aldi?

Kristy said...

I lived close to Aldi in Kansas and I thought it was an odd place, but fun. I was just learning to be a good Aldi shopper when I moved. :-(

So happy for you!

CJ said...

I want to come too!!!!
Only for me I think it would be about a 2 hour drive. But you know..... I would do it once every couple months and stock up on canned goods.... it would be worth it I think.

I have been paying $1.69 for a can of green beans here, 80 cents if they are on sale, or I drive 20 mins to the cheaper grocery store. When I found one store that had a canned goods sale I left with two carts packed up so high I could barely push them.

A 26 minute drive is nothing.... we have to drive 25 mins to the taco bell, 20 mins to the wendys, 15 to a mc donalds, The closest grocery store is almost 10 mins away and the cheaper stores are even further. I just did our shopping and it was just for two people and it was almost $400... in KS it would have been like $160... but not here in MA....
I felt the same way you did, my first trip to the store I walked around in a daze afraid to put anything in my cart.

I went to Aldi's a lot when Jason was a student but when he was done with school I slowly stopped going as much and then would just go stock up when I had time and felt like it and then hardly ever went over time. But paying higher prices like this makes you realize what a good thing you had and makes you miss it. lol

Whitney Mockler said...

I did the math on my car in about 20 seconds...if you were to drive my car and you saved more than $3 it was worth it. I hope that makes you feel more validated to those haters who make you do the math. =] And I driver further to get to the mall, and that is the opposite of saving money!!

My Many Coloured Days said...

You are preaching to the converted here. The first thing I checked when we got our job was if there was an aldis in our town. No such luck. But I may be hunting down the nearest one!

Anne Marie said...

So glad you found an Aldi's! I'm catching up on blogs today. I love how you let your kids do their own homework. It's the best way to teach them responsibility.