Fit & Active, Millville, Simply Nature, Appleton Farms, Baker’s Corner, Specially Selected: these brands all sound familiar but slightly off, right? It’s because they’re all exclusive to Aldi, a low–cost grocery store chain located at 46th and Market that may be one of West Philadelphia’s best–kept secrets.

Aldi—short for Albrecht Discount—is a leading supermarket in Germany that was founded by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht, who split the company in the 1960s over a disagreement about selling cigarettes.  The split spawned Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud. Here in the US, Aldi Sud operates Aldi while Aldi Nord operates Trader Joe’s.  As a Trader Joe’s shopper who frequently makes the trek down to their 21st and Market location, I was excited to explore what seemed like Joe’s darkhorse brother.

Like Trader Joe’s, Aldi maintains its low prices by selling in–house brands. The private label names may throw off a new shopper, but they’re really made by the same manufacturers as leading name brands. Millville, Aldi’s cereal brand, is rumored to be made by General Mills, much like Trader Joe’s pita chips taste suspiciously like Stacy’s.

But Aldi has a more bare–bones approach than Trader Joe’s, which may turn some off. There are no signs indicating what each of the extremely wide aisles sells, and products are stacked in cardboard boxes rather than shelves. In fact, it felt a bit like a miniature Costco, minus the free samples.

There’s no deli counter and the produce selection was minimal, but when I saw my incredibly low receipt total I understood the appeal of cutting back on those luxuries. Don’t expect anyone to bag your groceries for you, either. There’s a long counter behind the checkout where customers bag their own purchases (bring your own reusables, or you’ll end up paying for both paper and plastic).

Aldi may be no–frills and more out of the way, but if you have the time, the lower prices make up for it. With only one bag of groceries, it’s walking distance from campus. If you’re going for a bigger haul, the store is right next to the 46th and Market Market–Frankford Line SEPTA stop.

If you go:

ALDI

4421 Market Street (Corner of 46th & Market)

Bring: reusable bags, a quarter


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