I first saw him on Instagram. Sturdy, supportive, perhaps a little prematurely grey? No matter.
I’m taking about the Aldi Special Buy rocking chair, of course. You might remember when the $199 upholstered rocker first became available in July last year and sold out in minutes.
Bleary-eyed mothers went crazy for it, ready to race through the store in search of a comfortable way to soothe their hungry newborn/teething baby/sick child. It came on sale again on Wednesday, sold out within minutes and then the chairs appeared on Gumtree for $300, $400 and $500!
I hadn’t heard of the Special Buy rocking chair in July, being in the trenches of newborn fatigue, but now it was definitely on my radar.
Let’s be clear on two things:
- I’d gotten through eight months of night feeds, day feeds, cluster feeds, baby-help-me-clear-this-blocked-milk-duct feeds, all without a rocking chair. You can breastfeed without a specific nursing or rocking chair. In fact, in those early newborn days when it feels like the baby is feeding non-stop 24/7 it’s better to be in the living room, amongst the action and with easy access to water bottles, sofas, cushions and Netflix.
But now the baby was older and the overnight feeds were shorter and taking place in his bedroom, these 11pm, 2am, 4am feeds, they were wearing me out, perched in my hard, old, make-do, velvet dining chair and footstool. I needed something more comfortable for us both.
- There are plenty of nursing chairs from which to choose. But for something like this classic grey upholstered beauty pictured in the ALDI catalogue for $199, you’d be looking elsewhere to spend $500 at best, or up to $1700. Factor in wait times of up to five months and you can see why Aldi’s rocking chair was looking better and better.
So it was time.
I phoned a friend who knows all the ins and outs of the Aldi Special Buy. Not only did she offer to go and get me a rocking chair from her local – because divide and conquer is one of the keys to Aldi Special Buy success – she worded me up on what to do, how early to get there and how to get the chair home.
I enlisted the help of my mother-in-law for baby wrangling, I put on my running shoes and tights, just in case it was like those scenes of Boxing Day sales from the 90s, and we lined up at our local Aldi, one hour before the doors opened.
It was here we met the hero of the day, Dean. Dean was first in the queue, we were second (we’d gone to grab a coffee when only the cleaner was there). Dean had done a reconnaissance mission the night before, finding out there were 25 chairs here! We were safe. And – and this is where is heroics really come into play – after learning I was going to call a taxi for 8.40am to deliver the chair home for me, Dean offered to strap it to his ute and deliver it himself!
So we waited while more people joined the queue, and it was actually quite fun. There was a real sense of rocking chair camaraderie. There were plenty of mothers – including one new mum with her four-month-old baby strapped to her chest – grandmothers, dads and helpful granddads like Dean.
About five minutes before the doors opened, the manager appeared, telling us where the chairs were stacked (back of the store), where more could be found (side door) and warning there was to be no pushing, shoving, yelling or fighting. Duly noted.
And then we were in! While my mother-in-law kept my baby busy in the pram, I followed Dean to the back of the store, walking at speed with my trolley, where he hefted in a chair for himself, one for me and one for the mum with the baby in the carrier. Success! And even time to grab a coconut milk on the way out.
So! Here’s what I’ve learned from my Aldi Special Buy experience.
Know your location.
If possible, do a reccy the night before. Seek intel from the store staff on how many items there might be at that store.
Get there early.
About an hour before store opening time was perfect.
Breakfast for your baby and someone to take him for a walk, unless you’re a supermum with your baby in the carrier.
Have your trolley ready.
You’ll need $1 or an Aldi token to free it. Be warned it’s rather hard to wheel something as giant as a rocking chair in that trolley. Also, if a latecomer looks like they’re going to try and cut in behind you and in front of the third-arrival Supermum, you can put your old soccer-defender skills to work and subtly edge him out.
Think about how you’ll get your large purchase home.
We saw people looking mournfully at their large box sticking out of a hatchback, or unpacking the boxes and simply carrying the chairs down the street!
Believe in the kindness of strangers.
Thanks Dean. And congratulations on becoming a grandfather again.
Amy Noonan is a former journalist and current communications manager on maternity leave with her baby son. She loves dogs, the beach, broccoli, conversations which diverge into one million tangents and combining all these things with her family.