Aldi (weekly ad)
When I visited the American food store A&P in a city shopping mall in Delft, The Netherlands back in the 1980's, I expected to find at least a few of my favorite yummy American foods. That was definitely not the case. Literally everything was Dutch, just as the locals would have expected. (Not to say that Dutch food isn't yummy. Why else do you think I gained over 40 pounds in 28 years?)
Well, today my Dutch hubby wanted to visit one of the many German Aldi grocery stores that have sprung up recently in the US. (Yes, we are spending the weekend in the Big City with the nice neighborhood, friendly neighbors, and shaded paths for black rescue dog Nismo to walk with his "real" owner, our son.)
But back to Aldi--
First, you need to deposit a quarter in the shopping cart slot/lock if you plan to buy more than a couple of items. (That has been standard procedure while shopping in The Netherlands for years. Works as an incentive for folks to return the cart after use, since you get your money back. Plus you rarely see carts scattered throughout the parking lot. "Opgeruimed staat netjes!"/Straightened up looks tidy [Linda'a translation!!!!])
Next, almost everything is displayed in the cardboard boxes used for shipping. Not so appealing, but it looks "netjes"/tidy.
This particular Aldi was a bit disorganized with jars of peanut butter next to rice and more such strange shelf mates, but we found what we needed (or really did not need, but wanted to give it a try).
To say that there were lots of German-type foods in Aldi would be stretching the truth. I saw lots of off named brands that looked and sounded like some American names. And I believe that as well as the products being even cheaper than items from Walmart, they are probably about as good. I even picked up their Friendly Farms Nonfat Greek Yogurt (32 oz.) for $3.69. That is a deal, but I just hope a few tablespoons help start my new homemade Greek yoghurt when we get back home on Monday.
Besides expecting Aldi to have good bottled mineral water (which they did NOT), my hub expected their non-food items (read: all that stuff in the middle aisle that no one wants or really needs) to be more interesting (read: cheap!). I think he did find at least one handy "stanley-type" knife. I didn't even look at the stuff, since I definitely don't need clothes, kitchen utensils, etc. from Aldi. Or anywhere else!
Then we arrived at the check-out. Not a cashier in sight! When a lady in front of us asked if they were open (Saturday afternoon at 12:30 pm!), a young woman literally jumped into the seat behind the cash register and started punching in numbers and throwing food items around. My dutiful European husband with our own trusty freezer and economical grocery bags unloaded our goods for check-out and then scurried down to receive the checked items as they were actually tossed into another cart. The cashier rudely let him know that Hub could not bag up his goods there since his purchases were being placed in another cart. He was instructed that he was to use the long wooden packaging table provided across from the check-out counters. In other words, "here is your stuff, pay for it, pack it any way you like over there, and get out of here!"
Boy, does that sound familiar! I think that is the way I always bought groceries from 1979 thru 2006 when I lived in The Netherlands. And we still do that when we return there each Spring and Fall.
So I can't say that Aldi shows American Service with a Smile (:>€