I live just over the eastern border of Detroit, in the Cabbage Patch section of Grosse Pointe Park. I would say my neighborhood fits the description of the fabled “20 Minute Neighborhood” that many Detroit planning officials hope to create within the city. I can walk to shops, a brewery, restaurants, a few bars, a bakery, a cafe, park space, and this location affords me easy access to a resource often taken for granted in other parts of the country: an excellent grocery store. That grocery store is the Aldi, tucked into a nondescript strip mall on the corner of Mack Ave and Alter Rd in Detroit.
For those unfamiliar, Aldi is a chain of affordable grocery stores started in 1961 by a pair of German brothers, the Albrechts, who took over their mother’s local grocery store in Essen. The name is a combination of “Albrecht” and “discount.” Aldi now has stores all throughout Europe and Australia, as well as around 1,600 stores across 35 states in the US.
Anyone who lives in Detroit knows how difficult it can be to find an easily accessible, affordable grocery store that offers fresh, nutritious food. Aldi fits that description perfectly. It even makes an effort to source things locally when they’re in season.
As it currently stands, the regional Aldi stores ring the outer border of the city, largely serving nearby suburbs such as Grosse Pointe Park, Dearborn Heights, Eastpointe, and Ecorse. The one exception is an Aldi in the city of Highland Park, near Hamtramck and Detroit’s Boston Edison neighborhood in the center of the city.
There is a greater need for Aldi or a comparable grocery store deeper within the city. There’s no reason there shouldn’t be at least 5 Aldi locations within the city limits. Two of my fellow Fellows regularly shop at the Aldi near me and they come all the way from Midtown and Rivertown because the grocery store options in those areas can’t compete with Aldi’s value. Midtown may have Whole Foods, but Whole Foods will never be an option for everyone in the way that Aldi can. It simply has too many extraneous costs built into its business model to be able to compete with Aldi on price, even if they offer the same quality of food. There’s no free samples, hot bar, or cafes at an Aldi and that translates to lower prices without sacrificing the quality of the food.
In the next blog I’ll do a sort of Aldi 101 where I highlight some of the treasures to be found within its walls. Stay tuned!