The Big Shop

Sometimes, I find that my idea of fun would drive most people crazy.

We’re bargain hunters. I get excited about it. It’s easy here. Shopping in a town where everything is basically on one single street – everything on the way to everything else – you’re going to pass each store anyway. Doesn’t take going out of your way, just the will to get out of the car.

We have two hardware stores. Aubuchon and Ace. One is on the way to the other, so we never buy anything without stopping at both. I recently saved $40 on an item by just being willing to pull over and check the price in both stores. Usually it’s just a few bucks, but I have some fun in the bargain.

In the grocery arena, Saranac Lake has three supermarkets. Beginning downtown, we first have the “old” Grand Union on Church Street, with the pothole parking lot. It’s kind of a dump, but I like it. We don’t go there though. On your way out of town, you’ll find the “new” Grand Union, and Aldi across the street.

We do most of our shopping at Aldi. Warehouse-like, cash-only, no bags. Low overhead. Clean as a whistle. I mean, spotless. I was dubious, but then I discovered that Aldi has contracted with some excellent suppliers to provide their brands. The frozen vegetables are the best I have ever had. The  fancy crackers are better than the Elves’ brand, and are $1.39 rather than $3.99. The peanut butter is quite good. The spaghetti sauce is better than most. Much better. There are a few bombs – the soup is salty and I don’t like most of frozen meat – but we don’t buy that.

I like Aldi. I especially like cutting our grocery bill in half. However, they have what they have and that’s it. It’s a German company, and true to the legend – they are most concerned with efficiency. You ain’t gonna get any special attention here, Precious. Box your own. In short, you’re welcome to buy what’s there – cash only – and if you don’t like it, too bad. And as a bonus, you’ll get spotless, tidy restrooms.

We used to shop at the “new” Grand Union. It’s okay, I guess. It’s a little shabby, getting to the point where broken things don’t get fixed. It seems a little dirty to me, but maybe that’s because I know the restroom is disgusting. Really disgusting. Gas station disgusting. (I know I have a fixation, but I figure, if you can’t be bothered to keep the restroom decent, you’re probably cutting corners elsewhere.) We used to go to the new GU mostly to buy water, or some other non-Aldi item. But then in another “why don’t we check in here” jaunt, we discovered that a few steps away in the dollar store, they have gallons of water for a dollar.

We do the same when we go to Plattsburgh for clothing, coffee makers, or whatever. It’s fun for me – I like to investigate all options before actually buying something. The modern-day equivalent of The Hunt, perhaps. Take my new coffee maker, for instance. Four stores before I decided on one and found a price I liked that matched the features I wanted. $22 for a five-cup, programmable model with a metal pot. Exactly what I wanted. Small, features, metal pot. Out of stock.

So we went out of our way to pull off the highway while on a trip, and bought it buy it two-hundred miles downstate.

Sometimes, it’s about the hunt.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The Big Shop

  1. Pamela

    We have Aldi in the UK too. No restrooms here but they do take debit cards and today when I was slow loading my shopping onto the conveyor belt the cashier came round and helped me! She probably notice the queue that was building up behind me. Only problem with Aldi is that the specials and non-food items are way too tempting. I bought a wind up torch today, just liked the idea but I really should not have bought it. Perhaps I’ll take it back tomorrow. There are really weird gaps in their stock though. I wanted cornflour a few weeks ago but none in Aldi.

  2. I’m just the opposite. I hate the hunt…despise shopping. I do my best to avoid grocery stores (and the industrial food system) by growing my own, and buying local meats and dairy. That way I kill lots of birds (horrible expression) with one stone.

  3. Kate

    There’s an Aldi in Glens Falls too. Out here in LA, we have Fresh & Easy from the UK and Trader Joe’s. Now, that would be a happy day, if you ever got Trader Joe’s! I wouldn’t eat as well for so much less money without them! We also just got a Sprouts market down the road in Culver City, but I haven’t tried it yet.

  4. Kate – Funny thing … I’ve been told more than once that Aldi and Trader Joe’s are owned by the same company!

  5. Irish45

    Strangely enough, I never shop at our Aldis, Price Chopper, Hannefords and KMart Super serve me very well and between all three I have cut my weekly shopping costs from $80 to $50 and eat very well. Our two big Farmer’s Markets (local produce) serve me very well also. One on Sat. and one on Mon. You can’t beat veggies from right off the farm. I hate window-shopping unless it is for flowers and bedding plants at the many greenhouses in the area. Now that is fun and such a pleasant pasttime. Ask Kate!
    In Saranac Lake my family loved the old A & P Market. Grew up with them. Miss them too,and home.

  6. themac

    ok, I’ll come clean. The reason why I dislike Aldi’s is because when I was at college in Pburgh, I went there twice with my roommate. Between the pallets of mouse-chewed goods to dirty floors – I was grossed out. But that was…many years ago 🙂

    I will TRY again. TRY I say!!!

    (did this post come from my FB post? And, as you know, I am a huge bargain hunter too!!!!)

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