Facebook knows me so well that it’s scary. One day while I’m scrolling through my feed, I catch a glimpse of a few suggested groups, one of which has Aldi in the group name. I tap to find that there are almost 900,000 Aldi fans, endearingly called Aldi Nerds, posting their latest finds, product questions, recipes, and parenting conundrums.
I promptly join the group and add my husband too. We live two miles from Aldi and shop there multiple times a week. Their prices can’t be beat and with six of us, we can easily make a substantial dent in our store’s produce displays in one shopping trip. They offer loads of gluten-free (and other allergy-friendly items) and organic options at a fraction of the price of their competitors. And bonus points for them for being a charity-friendly store.
What I quickly discovered upon being granted access to the Aldi group is that the Nerds aren’t just fans of the grocery store chain. They are completely obsessed with all things Aldi. If you have yet to shop at Aldi, you might wonder, what’s the big deal? It’s just a grocery store, right? Wrong!
Aldi cultivates a unique shopping experience, making it even more desirable to budget-conscious consumers. First, many stores are arranged so that the first thing you see when you walk in is a wall of inexpensive wine. Did you hear me? A wall of wine that won’t put you in debt. If you recall, Aldi went viral two holiday seasons in a row for creating and selling a wine advent calendar. This almost immediately sold out and became so popular that third-party sellers who nabbed several were posting them online for three (or more) times the retail price.
Aldi operates 1,900 stores in 36 states. Shoppers receive a weekly ad by snail mail, promoting that week’s hottest items while also promoting favorites like their very-affordable shoppers’ favorites including diapers, fruit, and snack items. 90% of what you’ll find in store is Aldi’s own brand. They report that by selling their own high-quality products, they aren’t passing on the “hidden costs associated with national brands,” which include advertising and marketing.
If you’re lucky enough to have an Aldi within a reasonable distance of your home, you need to know a few things. First, you have to bring your own bags. If you don’t, Aldi charges you for bags, a wise way they help keep prices low and support a healthy environment. If you want a cart, and trust me you will need one, you have to pay a quarter.
I know what you’re thinking. So I have to bring my own bags or buy them, and I have to pay to use a cart? Yup, that’s right. Aldi shares on their website that by having customers pay to use a cart and return it to the cart corral, they are saving you money by not having to pay employees to mess with the cart shifting. It’s rather brilliant.
Unlike the Target Fam group, a popular Facebook community that I absolutely adore, the Aldi Nerd group is not moderated by Aldi. The group admin is Diane Youngpeter, mom of three kids who lives in Lake Orion, Michigan. She started her blog, The Aldi Nerd, and the Facebook group in 2017.
Why is Aldi so popular? Youngpeter told Scary Mommy that as a stay-at-home mom whose family is living off one income, Aldi was an answered prayer. The smaller store size means she can be in and out of the store quickly, and she loves not being bombarded by tons of brands and varieties of a single product. She doesn’t mind bagging her own groceries, and in fact, says she loathes when other stores don’t pack groceries to her standards. Basically, DIY’ing is where it’s at.
As far as the group’s success? Youngpeter says she’s “blown away.” She reports that her group members are passionate, not just about saving money, but also about keeping up trends based on posted recommendations. She cites Aldi’s peanut butter cups, rugs, and wine pajamas as a few of the most recent must-haves, according to the Aldi Nerds. Mostly, she loves the camaraderie.
Of course, as the creator, Youngpeter adores her group, but what do the Nerds have to say? Kerri Morgan from Greendale, Wisconsin said that she loves the genuine positivity of the group, claiming it’s her “happy place.” Abby Nall from Fayetteville, North Carolina shares that she enjoys celebrating her savings and neat finds with others who get it. Beth Erickson from Kalamazoo, Michigan said the community is “like a Star Trek convention for Trekkies—who else would care about my amazing grocery haul?” Jennifer Greer from Helena, Alabama says that Aldi group is “the most magical, positive group of instant friends.”
I have only been part of the Aldi Nerd community for a few weeks, but I’m totally hooked. I don’t mind that it floods my feed every second of every day. Whenever someone posts a brilliant hack using a budget-friendly Aldi product, I want to drop everything and zip to my local store. Every day, Nerds are posting recipes, pics of their kids and pets enjoying the latest Aldi find, or selfies in front of store shelves. The group, despite it’s size and popularity, really does feel like a tight-knit ray of sunshine.
Oh, and good news. The group is public and always accepting new members, so check it out for yourself. You’ll thank me after you make a beeline for Aldi to score the ranch dressing everyone is talking about.