Surviving Aldi: lessons from a successful shopper

You know I have dreams of having a beautiful garden, don’t you? 

Well, much like the person who buys all the cleaning products with hopes it will give them a clean house, I spied a magical piece of garden equipment that I thought would help us. A four in one garden trimmer, hedger, lopper thing. 

I knew it was good quality cause my step-father, who knows these things, said so. 

And it was cheap. It was an Aldi special buy. 

No, not the Aldi brand. One of those magical items – an outside well-known brand occasionally stocked by Aldi. The weekend special buys had all manner of gardening items included a lawn mower with a Briggs and Stratton engine, and my desired four in one, also with the Briggs and Stratton engine. 

I told my gardening friend I intended to get one. In fact I told all the ladies at work of my intended weekend purchase. “Could you get me one too,” a number said. 

“No worries,” I naively replied, “if I can, I will.”

My gardening friend, who is also an Aldi fan, said, “You will need to go early.”

“Yes, I’m going to be there at 8.30. You know how hard that is for me on a weekend.”

“Pfff,” she replied, dismissively, “that won’t do. It opens at 8.30. You have to get there earlier.”


“No. That’s no good.”

“Really? Will 8.15 do?”

“Mmm. You may be lucky.”

Now while I have Aldi items too numerous to count, my only other early  morning, on-opening-time, expedition was years ago. I picked up a special buy on the way to work. Oh, it was a gentler time then! The elderly in the queue had given me tips on how to get the camera I wanted, where to queue, where to rush to. This expedition proved to be much different. 

On the morning in question I attempt to get Mr S to join me in leaving home just before 8am. “I’m not going that early. You go. I will be there at opening.”

Not well pleased, I head off, arriving at the designated Aldi by 8am. This is silly, I tell myself. This is way too early. So I sit in the car for five or so minutes. [First wrong move.]

Imagine my surprise when I get to the shop front at 8.10 to see this queue!

These people are clearly Aldi experts. My friend was right. I may not have been early enough. I spy my competitors. Men in gardening clothes. Pensioners whose love of early mornings is only surpassed by their love of a bargain.

I can see the face of the Aldi newbs like me. When they walk up the ramp from the car park, thinking they’ve arrived in plenty of time before opening, and see the queue, they momentarily pull their head back in surprise. 

Anyway, I get my trolley [second mistake] and join the queue. And wait until opening while texting my gardening friend with regular updates on the Aldi campaign. 

The queue continues to grow. Some people try not to join the queue but surreptitiously stay to one side. I know their game. They want to rush in with those who queued earlier. 

See the blue-shirt-squatter on the left of the photo below?

I had my eye on her. Not for her a queue. She looked around for where she could squat close to the front of the queue. Her chosen spot is in front of the queue that has now formed a right angle.  She is alongside the part of the queue that is in front of the door. If this was a junior maths lesson she’d be on the hypotenuse. Well, I for one would thwart her entry afor me. 

It’s getting close to 8.30 and no sign of Mr S. I’m getting nervous. How will I lift the thing?

At 8.27, they open the doors and the rush is on. Lucky I didn’t get here at 8.30!

Yes, blue-shirt-squatter rushes forward. I use my trolley to block her entry. But she is not my real competition. 

If you know the Aldi layout, they have the special buys in the centre aisle, down the back. Most of those in front of me run down the first aisle. They clearly plan on turning right at the fruit and veg. I take the centre aisle, the aisle less taken. 

What’s this?!?

A man blocking everyone from rushing down the centre aisle. He is walking with his trolley, ssslllooowly, nonchalantly, frustratingly, in the middle. 

Bastard! He is clearly working in cahoots with someone who rushed down aisle one. His partner will get the lawn mower and hedger while he foils the competition. In fact, those who were behind me in the queue but are rushing down aisle one, as we dawdle, will beat me. 

And now what’s this? Blue-shirt-squatter is trying to shimmy past. I swing my trolley. Success in blocking her again. But my foot is injured by my own trolley. 

I will not bow out. I am not yet hors de combat. 

I make it past the blocker. The crowds are already amassed around the two in demand items. Someone has sent in an 8 year old boy to duck under the adults and grab the dwindling pile of hedgers. I leave my trolley in the aisle. I duck under a man lifting up one hedger and put my hand on the second last one, to claim it. “Careful love,” says the man under whose arm I ducked. Someone else rushes in and says, “I want one like everyone else here.” Or was that me talking? In the emotion of the chase, the centre of the battle, all clarity is lost. 

But what’s this? I can’t slide my hedger off the shelf. The boxes are not rectangular. They are narrower at one end and packed alternately. I have my hand on the one with the narrow end to the for. It is the second last one. I have to get it out. I can’t lift it. The crowd are pushing on me. 

Where is Mr S?

The one with wider edge to the front is removed. I slide mine off the shelf, wide-eyes looks of envy on those around me. Actually, I think they are looking for signs of weakness. Will I falter? Can they swoop in and claim my item? 

No, I will put it in my trolley and leave. I can’t risk leaving it in the trolley to look at any other items. Someone will take the hedger. It’s mine. It’s my precious. Get back!

I turn to my trolley. On no! Blue-shirt-squatter is pushing it away. “Hey, that’s mine.”

“Oh sorry. I didn’t know. I thought I could take it. Sorry, I don’t have good English. I didn’t know these things.”

“No.  You have to pay for a trolley.” And in my head, “Don’t give me the no English excuse. You knew well enough. It’s why you didn’t get a trolley. You were right behind me. You saw me leave my trolley on the side.”

Struggling, I put my item into the trolley. Within a few steps I have someone else ask me where I got the hedger. It is 8.31. “Over there,” I point. “But they’re all gone. They opened early.” The last sentence said almost sympathetically.

Triumphant, I walk towards to checkout. 

It is then I see Mr S strolling in. “I’ve got it,” I call out, “Let’s go.”

“No, I want to look at a few things.”

I frown. I am not well-pleased. But he won’t be moved. 

I am asked by strangers again about my item. I keep my hands firmly on my trolley. People are eyeing the hedger off. I know if I leave alongside other crates of special buys, it will disappear. I cannot afford to lose it now. Not after the time and injury sustained. 

So the lessons I will share:

  • Go early. Very early. 
  • Don’t get a trolley. They get in the way of getting to the desired item. You can drag the larger item to the register if needed. 
  • Big garden items will be at the back. 
  • Work with a partner. They can bring a trolley up from the rear after you’ve claimed your desired item. 

And as to the garden. Nah, the hedger’s only been used once or twice since its purchase in March! I will have to find something else that will work.  

Like hiring someone. 


9 thoughts on “Surviving Aldi: lessons from a successful shopper

  1. Absolutely brilliant. Nail biting stuff. Kept me on the edge of my seat…laughing!! I am SO pleased to have a kindred spirit – one who would see it as her mission to thwart a queue jumper with a trolley.

  2. Haha! Very, very funny. And excellent entertainment at 12:41am – a break between reports – toast with vegemite and a great tale! Picture me sitting here grinning with traces of vegemite on the side of my face!

    I am so sorry about your poor foot!! But it does make me respect your more as a true Aldi veteran. And what is that about how they stack things in the big bins at the back? Half the time the goods are damaged by frantic shoppers pulling them against the grain of the stacking system. Nothing worse than finding the very last cup-cake tier/party set only to find somebody has squashed it in their efforts to extract it.

    I am too wired to sleep…hopefully there will be more episodes forthcoming!

    • Thanks. None of my Aldi adventure have been as eventful as this one. Thank heavens. Yes, I do get annoyed at the tossing in bins. I have been know to fold and stack clothing items in Aldi.

      I’ve been wired last few nights. Hence last night I took a sleeping pill.

  3. Aldi is scary at the best of times! Everyone seems to line up outside and when doors open they rush in and have no courtesy, they will push you to the ground. I try to go in the middle of the day when the early rush is over but usually everyone has bought the good stuff on sale!

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