Living in rural America, I stumble onto trends in several different ways. Usually I hear about new stuff via television or the Internet. Not long ago, we saw a special on Aldi Foods and found one in Fort Smith, AR not too far away. So our first grocery shopping excursion in the new year was to Aldi. Aldi cuts costs in any imaginable way, so we had to scrape through our pockets and the car for a quarter to rent the shopping cart (refundable upon return, I might add). We got two dimes and a nickel together, and had to go inside to get a quarter from the friendly checker who already had it out. Apparently this is not an uncommon occurrence.
The shopping experience was good – a neat clean store with a lot of variety and low prices. We were pleased. Most importantly the food has all been very good. To be honest, I didn’t mind having to pay for grocery sacks, because it seems to cut down on waste. I also love that the costs for things like that are hidden in the merchandise.
I do worry about the old-time grocer, not that there are many around anymore. The relationship with a local salesperson is very important to me, and Aldi will never facilitate that kind of relationship. I’ll never have Mr. Hooper smile at me and say, “Howdy,” as I enter an Aldi (insert giant corporation name here). I miss the local communities and economies that were such a staple of rural America before transportation became so reliable and cheap. Oh well…at least we’ve got cheap food. Somewhere in Kentucky, Wendell Berry is mortified.