There are a lot of stores and restaurants that we love but can't visit in South Dakota: Meijer, Red Robin, Office Depot (just to name a few). There's one not here that I don't miss at all, though. In fact, I'm kind of glad I no longer have to admit I don't shop there, even though they are "so much cheaper."
I'm talking about Aldi. I recognize that what I am about to say may be anathema to some of you. Let me tell you about my Aldi issues, and you can decide for yourself.
Number one: they don't stock what I buy. Aldi stocks a lot of staples. Unfortunately, they seem to have missed many of the staples I buy. At my local Aldi in Illinois I couldn't find: whole wheat flour, unbleached white flour, rolled oats, natural peanut butter, organic fruits and veggies, whipping cream, soy yogurt, sheep and goat cheeses, and real maple syrup. As those items generally made up about ¾ of my weekly shopping list, I didn't really feel I could stock much of my pantry at Aldi.
Number two: they aren't cheaper than the sales--or even the regular price for some items. Aldi carries many items I would buy (such as meats, rice, canned beans, and butter). I found, however, that quite a few of these could be purchased more cheaply if I stocked up when they were on sale at Meijer. Ground beef, for instance, was regularly $1.69/lb at my local Aldi. When Meijer had the same package on sale, however, I could get it for $1.39/lb. Beans cost 55¢/can at Aldi, but were 33¢/can (and sometimes as low as 25¢) at Meijer on sale. Butter prices varied, but they tended to hover around $2.50/lb at Aldi; I never spent more than $2.00/lb at Meijer on sale, and occasionally, I could even find it as low as $1.00/lb. Then there are specialty items, such as soymilk. Aldi only stocked one brand and only in quarts for ... well, I don't remember how much. I never bought it, because it was more expensive than the gallon packages I could purchase at Meijer--and that was a brand I knew I liked.
Number three: the convenience factor. At Aldi, you have to put a quarter deposit into your grocery cart. Now, granted, you get it back at the end of the trip, but you have to carry a quarter with you whenever you go. Plus, the cashiers don't bag your items, just toss them back in the cart, and not always very gently. After checking out, you still need to spend another 5-10 minutes bagging groceries while trying to corral your child and keep her from walking out the automatic door into the parking lot (make that 15 minutes). Additionally, Meijer is open 24/7, but the Aldi by my old house closes at 8:00 PM.
Number four: not-so-fresh produce. I know some people manage to get great produce at Aldi. I was rarely one of them. Nearly every time I shopped there, I'd have to throw out some fruits or veggies that had spoiled before I'd gotten the chance to use them. It was especially bad with bananas and onions--two things I buy almost every week. If I have to throw food away, I'm not saving money.
So there it is. The combination of those four issues generally kept me away from Aldi. Now, it's not an issue anymore. There's not a single Aldi in the entire state of South Dakota. I just need to figure out where I can find sheep cheese and dried fruits here, since there aren't any Whole Foods and Trader Joe's either. Sigh.