Welcome to the world of Aldi, a massive discount grocery chain with locations all over the world, and big plans to expand its presence in the United States. Aldi is one of the largest privately-held companies in the world and now has locations in 18 countries.
The chain, with the opening of the South Fayette store, has 16 stores in Allegheny County, as well as a store on Trinity Point Drive in South Strabane Township and one in Waynesburg. Overall, Aldi has nearly 1,400 stores in 32 states, mostly from Kansas to the East Coast.
Aldi itself has become a consumer favorite because of its low prices and large selection. Unlike most grocery stores, Aldi keeps its prices low by keeping the footprint of its stores smaller, encouraging customers to bring own shopping bags, and paying a quarter – which is refundable – to use a shopping cart.
The store only accepts cash, debit and EBT cards. After paying, customers bag their own groceries. In-store banking, check-cashing and pharmacies, or other non-essential grocery services are not found in Aldi stores.
The chain’s stores feature more than 1,300 of the most commonly purchased items sold under its brand name for prices that tend to be 50 percent less than traditional supermarkets. The stores carry nearly 70 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including organic produce items. It also has a section that it rotates weekly called “Special Buy.” Here, customers can get even lower prices on mostly seasonal items.
The roots of Aldi go back to 1913, when a store was started in Essen, Germany. In 1946, that store was taken over by Theo and Karl Albrecht, who opened more locations and kept costs down by not advertising and keeping their stores small, according to the company’s history.
In 1960, the company itself was split in two – Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud. Following the reunification of Germany and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, Aldi experienced rapid growth in Germany and throughout Europe. Both divisions operate separately, except when it comes to certain store brands, the company history said.
The Aldi stores in the United States are operated by Aldi Sud. The company recently acquired the Bottom Dollar grocery chain and its 66 stores in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas for $15 million, a move that eliminated much of the competition for discount food shoppers. Aldi Nord, meanwhile, operates the Trader Joe’s grocery chain, which specializes in organic and private label food. Trader Joe’s stores are in Pittsburgh’s East End and Mt. Lebanon.
The South Fayette Aldi store sits at the intersection of Washington Pike and state Route 50 on an eight-acre parcel and is part of a new development called the Crossing at South Fayette. Besides Aldi, the new development will include a Starbucks, a Chipolte Mexican Grille, a Jimmy John’s gourmet sandwich shop and a Brentwood Bank branch, the bank’s first new location since the South Park Shops branch opened in 1999.