Lidl (Hazlet & Eatontown, NJ)

(Greg Caggiano) #1

Just put this up on my blog today and wanted to share it here.

I cannot think of a more perfect business to have been built in the ashes of that dreadful Red Oak Diner. Despite months of protests and multiple appearances from a gigantic inflatable rat, consumers pour into Lidl, Hazlet’s new supermarket, in droves. As a mild fan of Aldi and regular disgruntled shopper at Shop Rite, I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. Would Lidl be worth it, or serve as just another novelty once the hype died down?

I had my first visit there two weeks ago and again this past weekend. It needed a second go-around for me to take it all in. When you first walk in, you are confronted with a semi-large bakery section for fresh-baked good ranging from breads and rolls to donuts and pastries. For some of the larger loaves, the price may be $1.19 or $.79 if you buy two. There are several deals like that as you walk around. Lidl by no means has the quantity of Shop Rite, but they have just enough of everything that you could do your regular shopping here as opposed to just stopping in for a few loose items. The prices will catch your eye. Some are the same as other local supermarkets. Others are maybe a dime or two cheaper. But a majority will be seriously lower in price.

Naan in Shop Rite is $3.99 while it is $1.79 in Lidl. To digress from the main point of this post and open your eyes about the price gouging of Shop Rite, take in this comparison from Lidl’s competitor Aldi: Cafe Bustello sells for $6.99 in Shop Rite as opposed to $2.88 in Aldi. That’s some serious cash as far as groceries are concerned, especially when items add up on your shopping list. Similar experiences can be found at Lidl. Meats are lower (Lidl had a beautiful Black Angus ribeye recently for under $8 whilst Shop Rite would eclipse $10 for the same cut) as is produce. While Shop Rite is currently getting $4.99 a pound for asparagus, Lidl comes in at $2.99. Yams can be compared $1.29 lb vs. $.49 lb. Boxes of cereal which range between $3-4 at Shop Rite are most often under $2 at Lidl. Shop Rite’s store-brand stick butter is $3.99 while Lidl’s is $2.39. Hell, even Target offers their brand of salted and unsalted stick butters for $2.49.

I could go on and on with comparisons, but you can see for yourself with a visit. Lidl carries mainly their own brand or lesser known ones with a few major names sprinkled in-between. They also boast a rather large cultural selection spread out between the packaged and frozen goods sections. All of their frozen Indian food dinners are under $4, while Shop Rite’s routinely pass $5 and sometimes near $6.

Even after they opened, a sprinkling of lifeless protesters walked the sidewalk in the foreground carrying signs reading, “Shame!” It was humorous to see people drive past them by the hundred, with many making turns into Lidl’s parking lot to do their shopping. How quickly the area moved on from that whole “Monster Power Lines” insanity to go after Lidl for not having a union. I will not turn this post into a political grandstand, but I must say the workers in Lidl look much more pleasant than other stores. I suppose that depends on the day in this world we live in, but that has been my experience so far. Shop Rite, for the wonderful selection they have, can be incredibly overpriced. They treat their workers like numbers in a factory. Lidl, at least, appears to be treating their workers with at least a modicum of respect and paying a much higher wage than other stores which are unionized.

Will Lidl change the way we shop with a more European-style model? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it will just take a while. Once people get out of their comfort zone and start checking the place out, I imagine it would be hard to not become a regular. I, for one, do not mind embracing a different kind of shopping if it is going to save me money, even if that means bringing my own bags or buying paper ones for $.07 each. Each time I went there, I left with a shopping cart full of groceries and spent less than $60 each time. Both instances I remarked, in my head, “That’d be over $100 in Shop Rite.” Give it a chance.

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(Junior) #2

Funny, I’ve been to Eatontown and had almost the opposite reaction. Mind you I wasn’t as consciously checking prices as you seem to have but I found the store to be a bit distracting. Too many brands I didn’t know, or trust, and way too many “things”.

The first isle as you mentioned starts with a bakery and florist, then dairy and meats, turn the isle and in the second isle there was a power drill, sneakers, travel luggage oh and frozen fish. (No joke)

As you said the brands were very limited with what I assume was their private label being the most popular.

This was just my first impression I went once to check it out, I walked around but didn’t make any purchases. Truthfully I work close to a super Walmart and I’m shocked by their good prices AND their house brand, Good Value is as good as any name brand. (Though I wouldn’t buy meat or fish from Walmart)

Maybe I’ll give Lidl another try, or bring my wife who is far more cost conscious than I am.

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#3

I am all about Lidl these days. The produce has all been at or above ShopRite level (but cheaper). And they keep throwing coupons at me. $10 off $50 this week! One of my New Year’s resolution was to use less plastic and I’m in the habit of bringing my own bag. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the salmon, not bad, but not great.

I am also very into the speed at which I can get in and out on a weekend. At my local ShopRite, they seem to be unable to grasp the concept that LOTS of people food shop on the weekends. I don’t want to wait 15 minutes to pay! The rate at which Lidl gets you through checkout is impressive.

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(Evelyn C. Leeper) #4

If so, it’s something either new or just American. Look at the long list of controversaries in the Lidl Wikipedia article, including “registration of employees’ toilet visits as well as personal details regarding employees’ love lives, personal finances, menstrual cycles and so on.”

Aldi is also cheaper than Shop-Rite; in fact, it’s cheaper than Walmart. (FWIW, I’ve never paid $6.99 for Cafe Bustelo in Shop-Rite. Are you sure you’re comparing the same size and packaging?)

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(Dan) #5

Thats very disappointing to learn. Read anything similar to this happening at Aldi or ShopRite? The entire grocery trade is a rough profession. I would suspect we would all be horrified to learn what goes on globally.

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(Dan) #6

Lidl sells tomato paste in small glass jelly jars. I bought a dozen and they will make nice repurposed jars for fast jam. I’ve never cared for those tiny metal cans and tubes while convenient also have some wasted product.

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#7

Good tip on the jars. I’ll need to look for them next time I go.

I froze the leftover paste into an ice cube tray last time I had a can. So simple and smart. I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this forever. Measured out 1T into each cube slot and then it is so easy to toss into whatever I am cooking.

EDIT: And welcome back home (briefly!)!! Hope your project is going well.

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(Evelyn C. Leeper) #8

Apropos of nothing, Classico spaghetti sauce jars are usable for canning. Because they are square and with measuring gradations on the side, I also use them for storage of sugar, beans, etc. Whenever I get an excess, I email my Freecycle buddy who does canning and give her a dozen or two.

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(Dan) #9

Those are nice jars, I just don’t buy the brand.

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(Mr met) #10

just went for first time this week. Didn’t sample meat, produce, or dairy- but the stuff I bought so far was all very good quality at wonderful prices. They def do a much better job of selling the experience than Aldi, where I the prices and quality are pretty solid (esp price) but it feels like you’ve visited a Kmart or some other dying entity. Lidl at least makes it an upbeat experience while you shop for value.

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#11

Random tip but instead of using reusable bags, I’ve been just grabbing a big box that they have for free. It is the easiest. I shop right into the box and can easily bring the whole box in my trunk and then in the house.

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(Junior) #12

So pretty much canned goods? Just curious, was it the house/private label brands you bought?

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(Mr met) #13

baked goods, some cookies/desserts, canned goods…everything so far was really good…the fresh donuts esp. Cookies were really good, so were fresh pretzel rolls.

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(Mr met) #14

I Pau the .07 and use the bag to hold recycling bottles/cans/plastics…

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(Evelyn C. Leeper) #15

The problem then is you’re stuck with a box you have to break down and recycle. (If I could get boxes that I could re-use for shipping my eBay stuff, that would be great, but they always cut the tops off.)

We actually have two collapsible plastic bins in the trunk. At Costco we wheel the cart to the car, then load everything into a bin (or both). We could do the same at Aldi/Lidl, but if we don’t buy very much, we can carry the bags to the car, which means we can drop off the cart on the way out and not have to return with it to get our quarter back.

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#16

I feel like I am single handedly keeping the recycling guys in their jobs sometimes with the amount of cardboard we recycle each month! But yes, understand this point too.

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(Greg Caggiano) #17

Yes! Amazing chocolate chip cookies and pretzels.

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(Mr met) #18

chips were good too- for. 1 buck. Also the knock off Pringles were miles better than the real thing…gourmet I know…but figured id try this stuff first to see how it was.

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(Greg Caggiano) #19

Did a sampling of baked goods with Justin this afternoon. Yeah, the diet is going very well. For like 60 cents each it was hard not to.

Their jelly donut was pretty good. Not much filling, but decently cooked. The cinnamon bun tasted on par with any other I’ve had. Thought the apple fritter was outstanding. Lastly, I grabbed this other thing which I think was called a “Belgian Pastry” (I may be wrong on that). It looked like a cinnamon bun, but lighter, with citrus notes, frosting, and a cherry. It was very good.

I am also a fan of their soft pretzels. Their bagels do not look appetizing, but everything else in the bakery looks superior to other supermarket bakery offerings.

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(Mr met) #20

went again to Eatontown location yesterday. Decided to do most of my shopping for the week there for a change. Legit think I saved about 40 bucks off of a typical 100-110 trip compared to Shop Rite. So far, have been happy with most of the purchases. Will still go to SR for meat but tried some produce, some more dairy and such, as everything so far has been good with quality abound. Aldi prices with a Trader Joes shopping experience to some extent. One flaw so far- the checkout. I know they keep staff low to keep down overhead, but at one point they had one checkout open and like 7 people on line, reminding me of Acme levels of futility. They did eventually open a cpl more registers but by then it was a free for all. Tried the self check-out…NEVER AGAIN…overall a nice experience at really great prices. They def have nice selection and I could see doing a majority of shopping here supplemented with TJ and SR for certain items.

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