Ever been to an Aldi supermarket? The people who shop Aldi tend to be rather keen on the experience but it also seems to be a fairly specialised type of shopping that’s not for everyone. According to author Jo Hilder, Aldi shoppers are tough, cheap and a little bit nuts. She knows this because she is one of them. She writes:
“I shop at Aldi*, because I like simplicity, and I like my shopping done fast, and Aldi is simplicity and speed exemplified. But then, I am one of those people who uses the self-serve checkout in other supermarkets because I can’t stand the way others scan and pack my purchases. It’s a control thing. I was probably traumatised in the past; maybe it’s because my father used to manage a Woolworths store. How Freudian.
Aldi works for control freaks like me because much of what happens there is totally up to you. Aldi don’t have trolley collectors – they have trolley tokens. Aldi don’t do your head in with marketing – you never need fear you’ve been manipulated, because there is no merchandising whatsoever. No one caters to your personal needs; Aldi just wants you to get your needs in the trolley and go on your way. Aldi is not so much a shopping experience as it is a social experiment. It reminds me of high school; as long as you know your way around, and work out quickly how not to piss anyone off, you manage just fine.
Aldi is not for the shopper who likes to meander along, reading labels and comparing prices, or those who go grocery shopping to fill up an empty afternoon. It’s not for people who like to have a checkout person pack their things while they flick through their store cards and lay-by dockets. It’s definitely not for the old, infirm or those with a heart condition. Aldi shoppers are not mere customers perusing a retail landscape – they are highly skilled commandos negotiating a hostile environment. It’s a jungle out there. If you don’t believe me, turn up at Aldi at 8am on Boxing Day; you’ll be taking your very life in your hands.
Aldi is not safe for the uninitiated. There ought to be a TAFE course, seriously. Aldi shoppers learn that no one will take care of them if they become lost or confused. They understand that at any time they might be injured or separated from their loved ones. They do not browse, pause or hesitate. Experienced Aldi shoppers drive their trolleys like armoured recovery vehicles; straight up one aisle and down the other, pushing with one hand and sequestering supplies with the other. They don’t need to stop and look for what they want – they know the store layout backwards. Seasoned Aldi patrons stop their trolleys for only two reasons, 1) because they need both hands free to grab more stuff, or 2) because some uninitiated newbie has stopped in front of them to look for another brand of toilet paper. Hard-core Aldi shoppers sigh out loud a lot – it helps stop them from kicking people in the backs of the knees.
Aldi is cheap, but don’t think we don’t pay for it in other ways. When you shop at Aldi, your pantry looks like it’s stocked with kiddie groceries; the kind made from grey plastic to look like tins with absurd made-up brand names on them. We come home from the supermarket with bruised shins, and go crazy when someone removes our trolley token from the change tray in the car, mistaking it for a two dollar coin.
Sadly, Aldi shoppers do not enjoy the social status associations that Coles or Woolworths shoppers do. Like public housing, or insulin, you probably wouldn’t choose Aldi if you thought you really had a choice. Because of this, Aldi dedicates can be closed books when it comes to their supermarket shopping loyalties. They live a secret life, revealed only in the brutally frugal atmosphere of the local Aldi store. Their true and usually well-hidden financial, emotional and psychological condition is played out for that one-half hour every week when they head off for the weekly grocery shop.
You can pretend you are socially adept, well-adjusted and on top of your game in every other sphere, but if you shop at Aldi, I can tell you who you really are.
1) You are cheap.
2) You are probably a bit mad.
3) you are definitely a survivor.”
*This is not a sponsored post. Jo Hilder just really shops at Aldi and wanted to write about it.
Where do you shop, are you brave enough to front Aldi? Do you judge people’s shopping trolleys?