Get To Know Aldi With These Lesser-Known Secrets

Get To Know Aldi With These Lesser-Known Secrets

If, like many other shoppers around the world, a trip to the grocery store means packing up and heading for Aldi, you've probably had some questions about the popular chain. What's up with having to leave a quarter to use a cart, and why don't you ever see coupons?

We've dug deep for some particularly juicy info about the discount grocer, including details on the other name Aldi goes by in the United States. Think you're an Aldi expert? Think again — here are 25 things you never knew about Aldi.

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Aldi is a German company

It was started in the country back in 1946 by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht. In fact, the name Aldi is a syllabic abbreviation for Albrecht Diskont (Albrecht Discount).

More: Grocery List Shopping Apps for an Easier Store Experience

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It began life as a corner store

Aldi can trace its history even further back, to 1913. Though the company didn't officially incorporate until 1946, the first Aldi was a corner store that was initially opened by Anna Albrecht, Karl and Theo's mother.

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U.S. customers are more familiar with Aldi South

The Aldi brand split in 1960 when the Albrecht brothers decided to go their separate ways. The Aldi most U.S. customers are familiar with is Aldi Sud (Aldi South) while the other one is Aldi Nord (Aldi North), which goes by a different name in the U.S. — keep reading.

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Aldi split into two because of a disagreement

When the brand split, the brothers owned 300 shops. The disagreement that caused the formation of Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud was whether to sell cigarettes in their stores or not. Karl was adamant that cigarette sales would attract shoplifters, and Theo didn't believe that was the case. Unable to reach an agreement, they parted ways financially.

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The split lead to two different HQ locations

Aldi Nord is headquartered in Essen, Germany, and Aldi Sud's H.Q. is in Mulheim. Though Karl and Theo have passed away, the companies continue to be family-owned.

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Aldi Nord goes by a very familiar name

Aldi Nord is known as Trader Joe’s in the U.S.

While Aldi focuses on a more traditional, no-frills shopping experience, Trader Joe's concentrates on offering a hipper, unique experience. These differences show how the philosophies of the two brothers affected the companies after their split.

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Shopping bags don't come free

You have to pay for shopping bags at Aldi or bring your own. In most places in the U.S., you get grocery bags for free, but when shopping at Aldi, you're encouraged to be more environmentally conscious. Quite a few shops have this policy now, especially in California, but Aldi has been doing it for decades.

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Bagging groceries is the customer's job

You'll also have to bag your own groceries at Aldi. Most stores have an area that you can take your items to after checking out that gives you plenty of room to finish bagging before you leave.

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Carts cost a quarter

If you want to use a cart at Aldi, you have to pay a deposit. Each cart has a coin slot mounted on it, and by inserting a quarter, you unlock it from the cart ahead of it. This helps to prevent theft and encourages people to return carts to their corrals so they can get their quarter back.

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Aldi's brands are just as good as the national brands

Around 90% of the products at Aldi are packaged under Aldi brands. But these items are still produced on the same lines as name-brand items, and they meet the same quality standards.

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Aldi emphasizes healthier food

Aldi-brand products tend to be more natural than the competition's. The store has mandated that all Aldi brands should be free of MSG, artificial coloring, and hydrogenated oils.

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You can snag plenty of organic foods at Aldi

Aldi has recently expanded its organic food offerings. The store also stocks a wide array of gluten-free foods. For the health-conscious, this gives you a lot more choice than you'd typically get in a similar-sized market.

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Locations aren't open 24 hours

Aldi isn't a 24-hour establishment. Stores tend to be open only during peak shopping hours, which may be inconvenient to some.

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Aldi has a fantastic customer guarantee

The Aldi Twice as Nice Guarantee is almost unparalleled in the industry. If you find an Aldi brand product that doesn't meet the quality of a rival brand, you get the double guarantee of getting your money back and the item replaced.

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Checkout at Aldi is a much quicker affair

You may notice when shopping at Aldi that the cashiers seem more efficient than at other outlets. This is because every Aldi product has multiple barcodes, which makes it a lot easier to scan a product without having to hunt for the UPC label.

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Don't expect to use coupons there

If you're a coupon clipper, Aldi might not be for you. The company doesn't accept coupons. The reason stated is so cashiers can keep lines moving instead of having to stop to scan a fistful of coupons.

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Creating product displays is a cinch

The boxes that products are shipped in are part of their displays at Aldi. Instead of sitting individual items on a shelf, Aldi employees can just open the box and place the whole thing on the shelf, which makes restocking much more efficient.

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Aldi does its part to donate to food banks

Unlike many grocery stores, Aldi has a policy that outlets can donate lightly damaged or newly expired food to charities. The store also works with Feeding America to donate to food banks.

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There are more stores to come

Aldi is expanding rapidly. The company is spending almost $2 billion to renovate existing stores and nearly $3.5 billion to open new ones.

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Aldi is dedicated to remaining competitive

Aldi goes through an intensive testing process when creating its brands. It conducts blind taste tests, comparing its products to competitors, and reviews each product yearly to ensure its formula is still competitive.

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You can't call individual Aldi stores

Unlike almost every other company, Aldi doesn't publish the numbers for its stores. You can call the central corporate helpline, but you won't ever get hold of anyone locally.

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Only essential staff get brought on

One of the reasons you won't be able to call your local Aldi is because there's no permanently staffed office. Aldi cuts overhead by only hiring for essential roles. Which means most stores only have six to eight total employees.

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You can shop Aldi without a membership

You don't have to be a member to shop at Aldi. There's no Aldi club or dues, and anyone can walk-in and shop at no extra cost.

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Aldi spends very little on marketing

Since the company's inception, one of the places where it’s saved money is by letting word-of-mouth bring people in. Even now, you'll see hardly any Aldi TV, radio, or newspaper ads compared to its peers.

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You can view Aldi specials for two weeks in advance

Most grocery stores run their ads week to week, but Aldi gives you a little extra time to prepare to stock up.

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Think you're an Aldi expert? Think again. We've got the scoop on secrets that your favorite budget grocery store is hiding.