I was so excited when the nice people at Aldi invited me on a trip to their Chicago area headquarters last week! The trip was perfectly planned and while short we definitely packed a lot in and I feel like I learned a ton about Aldi!
Aldi is a German-based grocery chain that features mostly their own brand products at a huge discount. I wasn’t sure what to think as I have only been in an Aldi one time before but I was willing to be open and give it a chance. I was happy to hear that Aldi will be expanding its presence in south Florida very soon as they open a distribution center in Royal Palm Beach. I’m hoping they come to St Lucie County! Right now my closest stores are in Delray Beach (an hour south) or Palm Bay (an hour north).
I arrived in Chicago and met Krystal, the Aldi Mom! Her site is about all things Aldi and I love how she is reviewing the products! We were whisked away to The Herrington, a gorgeous boutique hotel in Geneva, Il. My room was really nice and you better believe this Florida girl had that fireplace on in the room!
We were taken on a cute little bus to Aldi Headquarters in Batavia, IL. The building was really nice and super clean. We were welcomed and ushered into the test kitchen which was so cool. We did a Switch and Save challenge where we blind taste tested the Aldi product versus the national brand. I couldn’t ever tell which was which and most times liked them both equally. This part was what sold me – why pay more for a product that tastes the same as a lower priced product? We tried the wine, cheese, crackers, sparkling juice, etc.
Then we heard from Janice Stahl, a food stylist who is also an avid Aldi shopper! She went over some fun holiday entertaining tips and gave some great examples as to how we can use Aldi products to keep our holidays perfectly planned and totally classy! Check out these cool centerpieces and decorations using clear glass containers and fruit!
We were served a full holiday dinner including spiral sliced ham and a delicious green bean casserole. The Aldi website features some great recipes you can make using Aldi products! I tried one last weekend and will be posting the recipe in this week’s Nicole’s recipes – it was delicious! The food was great and the Aldi test kitchen chefs helped to serve us. We all left very full and headed back to the hotel to go to sleep. We were excited to find milk and cookies waiting for us in our rooms at The Herrington – yum!
The next morning we headed to the Aldi store in Batavia, IL and were given an in-depth store tour by one of the Vice Presidents. He gave us some great information. Did you know every Aldi product has at least 3 bar codes on it? There are UPC’s all over the product and this helps the cashiers go super fast through your items. Also, the cashiers do not bag your items, you can bag them yourselves if you brought bags or buy a bag there. Also, you need a quarter to get a shopping cart but no worries, you’ll get it back when you return it.
I loved this part of the experience. The VP was super knowledgeable and it was great to be able to see what he was talking about in practice at the store. Everything they do is very purposeful and for a reason that makes you have the best experience as possible with the lowest cost to Aldi and to you in return. The eggs are on a sliding cart right from the distribution center and all they have to do at the store is wheel the cart to the case where the eggs are. Items are stocked in boxes where you just rip of the top and stack. We watched an associate stock chips in just a few minutes.
The store we went to was really bright and clean. It was larger than the two stores I have been to in Florida. The produce looked great and I really coudn’t wait to shop at our Aldi when I got back home. I loved hearing recommendations from the other attendees as to what items their families really liked. One of the things that struck me the most was that Aldi pays cashiers starting at $12.65 per hour and offers medical insurance for just $10-$15 per month even to part-time employees. This is a great service and so important for the community.
Then we went back to the headquarters for a guacamole challenge! We each had the chance to pick up an item form the store to supplement the list they gave us beforehand of what was available in the Aldi test kitchen. I grabbed this cool pumpkin salsa with the thought of making a fall guacamole. It didn’t win a prize but I loved tasting everyone’s guacamole! And I’m glad I got to try the pumpkin salsa, it was yummy!
We had a delicious taco bar lunch served by the Aldi test kitchen chefs again! I loved the carnitas, they were super yummy! Then it was time to say goodbye and head home. Since we had to go to Miami on Sunday I decided to stop into an Aldi store and do some shopping, non-perishable only of course because of the distance from the store. Hopefully one will open closer to me soon so I’ll be able to go weekly and shop there!
I was disappointed that all of the winter holiday items I saw in the Geneva store were not yet in the south Florida stores. I had my eye on this chocolate covered marzipan pound cake and it was nowhere to be found! I think it will be here just in a few weeks. Many of you probably don’t know that I speak fluent German and have spent a lot of time when I was younger in Germany. I love marzipan and Aldi had a good selection of German goodies for the holidays – yum!
Aldi paid for my trip to their headquarters. My opinions remain my own and I was not required to write at all about my trip. I did because I think the experience was a great one!
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