International sensibilities in stores

Spencer Wakefield, Staff Writer

If Germans are one thing, they are efficient. Whether that manifests in becoming an industrial powerhouse or a sleek grocery shopping experience, Deutschland strives to make everything a science. Aldi, the aforementioned sleek grocery shopping experience, is a moderately successful supermarket chain that has spread throughout Europe and, in the past few decades, to the United States. Compared to American chains, it offers a refreshing and arguably more straightforward shopping experience.  

Aldi’s most famous gimmick is probably the carts, requiring a quarter to unchain one from all the other carts. This serves as an incentive to return them to the stack when you are done shopping- after all, it is your money, why would you not want it back? Once you rent out your cart, you are immediately faced with a selection of goods.  

Aldi workers do not waste time unpacking food items from their boxes, which are stacked neatly and tightly on shelves about six feet high. No, they simply open the box, leaving the shoppers to do the dirty work of emptying boxes. This is arguably one of the most efficient parts of the store, saving both labor on the part of the workers as well as the planning of where every item goes. One box empties, another is pulled forward. It is truly a grocery machine.  

The store itself is designed to be an experience where you rarely move backwards, a one way labyrinth of food, drinks, and the odd kitchen essential. Even before the coronavirus seemingly permanently changed how we shop, the store was ahead of the curve by asking its customers to get in, grab their food, and get out without causing too much trouble.  

While not offering as much of a selection of brands as, say, Walmart, Aldi goods are not only cheaper than big brands like Cheez-Its, but sometimes superior. This price to quality ratio is arguably the best part of shopping at Aldi, however, the last and most important component is game changing- they treat their employees like people! While not an extravagant wage, Aldi’s employees are paid a minimum of $15 an hour, have generally less responsibilities than the average grocery worker, and most shocking of all, cashiers are allowed to sit. This is truly revolutionary, and by itself is enough reason to shop there. Woodman’s might also pay their employees well, but they can’t sit down on the clock.  

Last, but not least, Aldi employees do not generate the waste of plastic bags, nor do they bag your food. That is all up to you, on the counters just behind the checkout. Once you are done, you return your cart, take your quarter, and drive home with your cheap, delicious food. A smile is on your face, your stomach is about to be full, and somewhere in Berlin, another fan of beer, brats and grocery shopper is smiling too.