First timer at Aldi stores? Bring a quarter, a bag and this handy guide

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Aldi will open its first Bay County location later this year at 2260 State 77 in Lynn Haven.

Walking into an Aldi for the first time can be a daunting experience. You have to put a quarter into your shopping cart to use it, you'll see tons of brands you probably don't recognize and you have to bag your own groceries.

So, what's going on?

Aldi isn't making an attempt to impress anyone with Fresh Market-style aesthetics. Instead, the discount grocery chain's goal is to save shoppers money, and it has some interesting and intentional decisions to accomplish that task.

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The Aldi layout

In 2018, Aldi gave each of its 1,800 stores across the nation a makeover. Improvements included offering more fresh foods, more on-the-go food options and a general revamp of the store's interior.

A new Aldi, shown on Tuesday, is taking shape in Lynn Haven adjacent to Beef O' Brady's on State 77.
A new Aldi, shown on Tuesday, is taking shape in Lynn Haven adjacent to Beef O' Brady's on State 77.

Still, Aldi store layouts differ from the run-of-the-mill grocery store. First off, they're much smaller than what shoppers typically might be accustomed to. Aldi offers a smaller number of products than people might be used to seeing in stores. This helps shoppers find what they're looking for faster and keeps overhead costs down.

Items are typically stacked on the display boxes that they're shipped in. Sometimes entire aisles will be display boxes. Sometimes there are no aisles at all. These boxes can be used as makeshift shopping baskets, too.

Bring bags and a quarter

Why would someone want to grab a display box and start shoving items into it? Aldi doesn't offer bags to its customers, so shoppers should plan ahead and bring their own bags. Did we mention you have to bag your own groceries?

Thinking about grabbing a shopping cart to peruse the aisles? Make sure you bring a quarter with you. Aldi carts are free to use, but there's an asterisk next to the word "free." Inserting a quarter into a cart will unlock it for use. When you're done using the cart, you put it back and get your quarter back. Occasionally, Aldi will have special deals on Aldi quarters.

Aldi deals

While Aldi is already known for having great prices, paying attention to the days you shop and product signage can lead to even greater savings. Similar to Walmart, Aldi advertises many of its products as "Everyday low prices," but these aren't the sales you're looking for.

Aldi Finds, Aldi Savers and Red Hot Deals are phrases to keep an eye out for to find the best deals. Aldi Finds, for instance, are typically things like furniture, apparel, household items and more. They're usually pretty limited, so your mileage may vary.

Aldi Savers items are products that go on sale every week. These are your everyday items that are slashed even lower.

Finally, Red Hot Deals are leftover Aldi Finds that are discounted even more than they were before.

Aldi does not accept manufacturer coupons.

When to shop

Another cost-saving measure Aldi implements is having tighter store hours. Stores are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., so early and late shoppers will have to adjust their schedules.

Knowing when to shop also can help you find better deals. New Aldi Saver deals and Finds happen every Wednesday. On Sundays, you'll find new Red Hot Deals.

Aldi quality

While Aldi may not offer multiple brands of a single product, it does have a large variety. You can find plenty of fresh produce, named brands and even brands you've never heard of that will rival the ones you have.

But if you find something you don't like, you can always return it. Aldi allows shoppers to return anything they don't want with a refund and a replacement.

The new Bay County location is part of the company's aggressive nationwide growth in recent years including the opening of 150 new stores this year, about 20 of which will be in Alabama, Mississippi, the Florida Panhandle and Louisiana.

The grocer is planning a second Bay County location for Callaway at the corner of Seventh Street and Camellia Avenue, next to Walmart. Callaway officials said it will open near the end of 2023.

Ground broke Feb. 10, 2021, on a new Aldi distribution center in Loxley, Alabama, a facility will help supply the new stores in the region.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Aldi coming to Bay County: First time shopping? Here's what to expect