Doing something about it.

I’m going to admit something that I’m not proud of. Until recently I never shopped at Aldi’s because, speaking plainly, I was a snob about it.

Don’t ask me why, but I equated shopping there with, I don’t even know. Something beneath me. Ridiculous, I know. But I’m admitting it.

I assumed everything there was off-brand and yucky and that if I bought produce there, chances were ten to one that I’d come down with some kind of stomach-lining-eating bacteria with a side of tuberculosis.

Not. Anymore.

I’m converted. I will go there and bag my own stuff and hug the bananas and the oranges because they never saw the inside of a Giant Eagle. And I have Giant Eagle to thank for it.

Here’s the deal. I’m aware that getting four little bags of food at Giant Eagle is going to run me about 75 dollars because I’m paying for the nice store, the pretty floor tile, the overpriced Jarlsberg cheese, the wide selection that can be found in their international aisle, and until this weekend, I never batted an eyelash about it.

Not. Anymore.

This weekend I went to buy avocados and limes at Giant Eagle for a family dinner party. I grabbed a self-scanner doohickey and headed to produce. When the sticker-printing machine kicked this baby out for five avocados (photo courtesy of Saucy, my bitch):

I was suddenly all [eyelashes batting furiously]. Dudes! I am not purchasing the avocado tree! I just want five avocados. Avocados that had I bothered to take the time to head to Sam’s Club would only have cost me about 4 bucks.

Trying to see through the blurry screen being created by my furiously fluttering eyelashes, I headed over to the limes — a must have for pico de gallo and fresh margaritas. I needed ten.

Eight dollars and ninety cents.

I could have purchased that at Sams’ Club for three and a half dollars.

Realizing the ridiculousness of the prices, I wanted to go to the back of the store and Chuck Norris their stupid giant chicken-man decoration. I wanted to go to floral and pop all of their stupid Dora the Explorer balloons. I wanted to throttle the produce guy for not having any overpriced cilantro in the store. At this point, my eyelashes were like BLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

I lost a few of them in the process. They’re now not as thugaliciously thick as they once were.

I have no idea why it bothered me as much as it did on this particular trip. All I know is that I was shaking when I got to my parents’ house armed with the bags of overpriced shit. I shook when I told them and my sister how horrible it is for Giant Eagle to claim to be trying to save people money when they act like there are gold nuggets of riches to be found inside of their fruit. I was offered several glasses of wine to calm my nerves down.

Then I realized. Complaining isn’t helping. Continuing to shop there and support them isn’t helping. Drinking is definitely helping.

Then I decided. I’m going to take the advice of those readers that write me all, “God, PittGirl. Shut up about the things that piss you off and DO something about them for a change.”

So I am. From this day forward, I will no longer shop at Giant Eagle. I’m going to Aldi’s and to Target and to Walmart and to Sam’s Club. Anywhere but there. I don’t care if David Conrad holds a boob-signing at Giant Eagle. I will patiently lie in wait outside of the store until such a time as he can Sharpie “To my number one fan!” on my cleavage.

And anyone that writes me to say, “But if you shop at WalMart and Sam’s Club, look what you’re supporting!” I’ll say to you, “I’m supporting reasonably-priced foods.” And anyone that has a problem can take this $65 receipt from Giant Eagle and choke on it because twenty plus dollars for limes and avocados is enough to make me all BLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.





86 Comments


  1. MR
    May 27, 2008 4:04 pm

    Oh man, I just came back from upstate NY and stopped at a Wegmans.

    Giant Eagle is stuck in the dark ages compared to Wegmans. Wegmans has big, beautiful stores with lots of fresh produce and many options for helping you prepare meals and eat better. Their employees are friendly and helpful and their prices are competitive.

    Giant Eagle, on the other hand, has dirty stores, crappy produce, overpriced everything, horrible selection, useless employees (the ones at our store seem to have done away with bagging groceries…), and a joke of a store brand.
    The only thing that Giant Eagle does well is Gas Perks. And that’s a sad thing to say for a store that sells food.

    When my relatives visit from upstate NY, we do all of the sightseeing in Pittsburgh (look, there’s Heinz Field… PNC Park… Heinz Field… PNC…) and then we take them to Giant Eagle just so they can appreciate their grocery stores when they go home.

    The thing I don’t understand is that Giant Eagle can see what Wegmans is doing, but they aren’t able to – or don’t want to – copy their successes.



  2. scottie
    May 27, 2008 4:38 pm

    I’d like to see you substitute your choices for:

    Target – Definitely good for the household cleaning items and soda (No pop in my house)
    Stamoolis or PennMac – For cheese…mmmm cheese
    Costco – When you absolutely must have 40 gallon tubs of peanut butter
    Trader Joe & Aldi’s – Everything else



  3. Still A Fan
    May 27, 2008 5:44 pm

    we have an aldi, but i’ve never been in it. we also have the 4 biggest chains in our area all within 2 miles of each other so the competition is pretty good (i guess). aw screw it, lets just eat out every night.

    i feel the pain though….especially for the cost of the pasta salad. if you dont have things laying around to use, you are in trouble with almost anything.

    we’re a pancake family on sunday mornings while the blues are blaring out of the stereo. can you imagine not having the staples ready to make them?

    i like to use half bisquick and half whole wheat flour. you price that lately????

    milk….

    eggs….

    gotta put cinnamon right in the mix…..

    gotta put vanilla right in the mix….REAL vanilla, not this imitation shit….it’s spensive.

    now, i dont know about you, but once you have 100% maple syrup on your pancakes, french toast or waffles – there’s no going back to mrs. butterworths or log cabin. roll down to the iggle and see that 12 oz. of real maple syrup are like a mortgage payment. even at costco, the 64 oz jug (he said jug) is like $20. at the grocery store, you can pay $8 for 8-12 oz.

    people want to complain about gas costing $4 a gallon but they’ll gladly put $2 into a venf=ding machine for 20 oz Diet Coke (or is that just me)?



  4. Mik972
    May 27, 2008 7:23 pm

    I can’t believe that nobody here seems to shop at GFS Marketplace. There is one in Monroeville and Robinson. It is like Costco or Sam’s but there is no membership fee. It is the best place to shop if you are having a party of any kind! I have found that it is even cheaper than Aldi’s on most things if you don’t mind buying in bulk.



  5. SK
    May 27, 2008 7:48 pm

    Ugh, Giant Eagle makes my blood pressure rise to unhealthy levels. I make it a point to avoid Giant Eagle unless I need something that Trader Joe’s, Target or Whole Foods doesn’t have. I’d rather trek between 3+ stores to do all my shopping than deal with Giant Eagle’s high prices, sullen employees and horrendous store layout (seriously, what’s with the excessive and inconveniently placed displays?). Giant Eagle makes me so angry that I actually once complained to them on their website. I never thought a grocery store could inspire such rage, but there you have it.



  6. Megan
    May 27, 2008 8:27 pm

    Another reason why GE fuelperks is a racket: GE’s gas is total crap. For one year, I’d buy GE gas one week, then any other gas the next week. I consistently got 60+ more miles per tank with any brand other than GE gas.



  7. Jen
    May 27, 2008 8:38 pm

    I just had the same revelation this week. I am no longer shopping there if I can help it… say what you want about WalMart, but if I can save $10-20 a week on groceries, rock on. And I don’t drive my car very far (RHYME!) so the fuel perks are nice, but not necessary, really.



  8. Steelman
    May 27, 2008 9:07 pm

    Like many Baby Boomers I like to eat healthy cereal. You know, the kind that tastes like styrofoam. One of my favorites is Uncle Sam’s cereal – loaded with flaxseed. Yum, yum. Giant Eagle typically sells the cereal for $2 more than Wal-Mart. They get away with that crap (pun intended) because health nuts are trying to avoid the use of Ex-Lax but are too lazy or too dumb to shop elsewhere. I guess they buy into the media misinformation that Wal-Mart is the Beast of Revelation that is hell-bent on destroying America. Wake up Burghers and shop wisely and maybe Giant Eagle will really lower prices.



  9. Judy C
    May 27, 2008 9:13 pm

    Not post related, perse, but I thought you’d want to know you hav invaded my dreams. I actually made reference to “CABbing” (choke a bitch) someone in a dream last night.

    Good work?



  10. pittgirl
    May 27, 2008 9:17 pm

    Excellent work!

    Yay, me!



  11. Shibori
    May 27, 2008 9:26 pm

    I don’t understand why everyone drools over the fuelperks. You spend $50 in overpriced groceries to get 10 cents a gallon, so if you have a 20 gallon gas tank (my Toyota takes 11 gallons!) you save $2.00 to fill up. Do you really think you saved $2? How does it make sense to save $2 on gas when you could save $10 on the same grocery order by shopping someplace else? It’s a gimmick, designed to distract you from the true effect on your bottom line. Not to mention that if that GetGo is a few cents more than another gas station in the area (as they usually are) you’re saving even less.



  12. addie
    May 27, 2008 10:20 pm

    Shibori –

    Right on. Fuelperks stink! The only time it was worthwhile was when they did double Fuelperks on gift cards around the holidays.

    Even if it was a good deal, every GetGo I’ve been to has been a complete and total goat-rope. I don’t need that level of stress when I’m getting gas!



  13. Mitch Cumstein
    May 27, 2008 10:31 pm

    Someone owes me like the last 30 min of my life back. I just spent wayyyyyy too much time reading about the grocery shopping choices of Pittgirl’s minions. Huh?

    Btw, my cat’s breath smells like cat food.



  14. bucdaddy
    May 27, 2008 10:43 pm

    Aldi shoppers, Can you really find limes and avocados there? I get some cookies at Sav-A-Lot from time to time and notice the produce prices are reasonable but it’s a dice roll what they have (seldom see red peppers, f’r instance), and the next avocado I see in there will be the first.

    BTW, I split my shopping between Kroger and GE. Last week I bought a bottle of rum at the winery/distillery a few miles from my house, and stopped at Kroger to get a couple limes to put in rum and Coke. My recollection is they were 2/$1.18.

    Still A Fan, It’s not just you.

    Shibori, What you’re doing is nuts, and is probably exactly what GE wants you to do: fill your 11-gallon tank everytime you get 20 cents off. You’re allowed 30 f*ckin’ gallons, people! Do the math! Go to Lowe’s and get yourself four 5-gallon gas cans for about $6 each. Run your fuel perks up to $3 and your car down to empty and then fill up your car and all your cans. One trip like that and the cans will more than pay for themselves.



  15. Ed Heath
    May 28, 2008 7:10 am

    I have been an Aldi fan for sometime now. I go to the Route 8 tiny one only because it is close to where I live. But I rarely can get there in the mornings when the produce and meat seem fresher and less picked over. My typical shopping pattern involves going to Aldi on a Saturday afternoon, and then the big Walmart in Pittsburgh Mills and the Waterworks Iggle for a little milk for my wife on Saturday night. Though sometimes I wait till Sunday for the little milk (but I think it is time to combine trips now).



  16. Kathy
    May 28, 2008 7:32 am

    Giant Eagle completely had me with the Eagle’s nest. The high prices were worth every penny to not have to deal with the kids while I was shopping. Then a few weeks ago, my kids let it slip to the lady at the Eagles’ Nest that they just had a birthday. She unceremoniously told us that they are now officially too old (10) to come in there any more. So, looks like I will be checking out Aldi’s as well.



  17. John
    May 28, 2008 7:42 am

    In Sewickley – thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to check out the Cash Market some time.



  18. PensPrincess
    May 28, 2008 8:07 am

    I am so with you on this (obviously so are a lot of others with all the posts) There is a GREAT Italian store in Monroeville called Labriolas. It is really close to the Big Bird but FANTASTIC prices. That way I am giving back to the community and not getting screwed on prices.

    Also, head to Farmer’s Markets. They are all over the city and fantastic for support of the local Farmers.



  19. Shibori
    May 28, 2008 8:17 am

    bucdaddy, I don’t spend enough money at the Eagle to care about the Fuelperks one way or the other. If I’ve accumulated 50 cents off in the last year, I’d be surprised. To get to $3 off, I’d have to spend $1500 at the eagle, and that just isn’t going to happen. Rather than screw them over by getting 20 more free gallons of gas (about $80 value, right now), I’d rather screw them by not spending $1500 there in the first place. (though for maximum savings, I hope you bought a Lowe’s giftcard at the eagle to earn fuelperks on your gas can purchase!)



  20. Christina
    May 28, 2008 8:22 am

    I know I’m late on this — (I was on vacation and I’m just catching up on blogs), but the best place to ever buy ingredients for guacamole, (if that’s what you were making) is at Trader Joe’s. I know that everyone constantly talks about their worship of TJ’s, but they deserve it. They have a Guacamole Kit that consists of two avocados, one tomato, an onion and a lime that is, I think, $3.00? If you try avocados at any other store in this area, you’re going to get charged at least $3.00 a piece. And yeah, limes and lemons are always expensive.

    Giant Eagle is infuriating. I was looking for a watermelon a few weeks ago, and they were $7.99. $7.99!! Come ON! I went to TJ’s and found bigger ones for $4.00. Giant Eagle needs to be taken down, I completely agree. I hate that place. I’ve shopped there exclusively with this past paycheck, and I have spent over $200.00 on food for myself, and probably more half of that is on produce.

    I also could not live with myself if I regularly bought my groceries at Walmart. Sorry. I don’t disagree with anyone who does, because it is cheaper than most places, but I can’t feed any more money than necessary into that money-gobbling, employee-degrading corporate machine.



  21. Christina
    May 28, 2008 8:24 am

    PS, I wish we had a Kroger in Pittsburgh. I shopped there once in South Carolina and it was one of the best grocery shopping experiences of my life. Their organic section is wonderful.



  22. bucdaddy
    May 28, 2008 8:30 am

    Shibori, Point taken.



  23. Pittsburgh Tom (in NJ)
    May 28, 2008 8:37 am

    Megan, Some gas pumps tend to be more sensitive to when a tank is full than others. There’s one pump at the station I go to that won’t put in more than half a tank in my car. It hits around a half a tank and thinks it is full. At the same station, there’s a pump that will fill it so full that I get about 50 more miles from a tank when I feel up at that one than any other there.

    So if you’re getting 60+ miles less from a tank when you get your gas from GE, it’s probably because they’re set to be more sensitive so you can’t take full advantage of FuelPerks. They probably want people to stop more there for gas and buy less each stop.



  24. bucdaddy
    May 28, 2008 8:40 am

    Wait … no Kroger in western Pa.? How does that happen? They’re all over the place in West Virginia. Weirton, Wheeling and Morgantown have two each (M-town has two GEs as well, plus Aldi, Wal-Mart, Super Kmart, two Shop N Saves and a Sav-A-Lot).

    Though be advised if you’re close enough to shop across the border that we have a stupid sales tax on food here, though the governor has been keeping a campaign promise to gradually reduce it with the goal of someday eliminating it. It’s 4% or so now, depending on what you buy, supposed to go down to 3% this summer.



  25. Erin
    May 28, 2008 8:59 am

    Are you guys really able to do your weekly shopping at Trader Joe’s? I was there a couple of times and I didn’t find that they had the staples I needed; also, I felt like they were overpriced as well. IMO.



  26. Kelli
    May 28, 2008 9:27 am

    I can understand how folks don’t want to give money to Wal-mart because of some of their practices, etc.

    However, please do not be blinded to the fact that most large corporations do the exact same things, they just aren’t known for it.

    Yep, I’m talking about Giant Eagle & Whole Foods. Please do not think that these companies do not have labor violations & complaints against them. They do.



  27. Zsa
    May 28, 2008 9:56 am

    Christina & bucdaddy – We used to have Kroger in Western PA – they pulled out all their stores because of a labor strike in the early 80s. It was very ugly if I recall. They own Turkey Hill though (I didn’t know this, Wikipedia told me) so hopefully they are sticking their toes back in the market to re-enter.

    I thought A & P left for the same reasons, but it might have been that A & P is just kind of declining in general.

    Erin – I used to think the same thing, and a couple weeks ago I went to TJ’s & was able to find all kinds of staples I didn’t before. I think they are probably changing up their merchandise mix as they find out what sells & what doesn’t.



  28. addie
    May 28, 2008 10:41 am

    Erin – Trader Joe’s is pretty much the only place we shop regularly. We suppliment with trips to Costco whenever we build up the nerve – about once/twice a month? – for produce, though now that the season has changed, most of our produce needs will be met by our CSA delivery and farmer’s market trips.

    I’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s for years (used to live in CA), and we’re sort of a Trader Joe’s household – my husband and I were just having a conversation the other day about whether TJ’s has actually influenced the way we eat. I think it has. I can understand how TJ’s could be frustrating at first, if you’re used to shopping at a big grocery store. You’re not going to see the same depth of items, and you have to get over whatever brand-loyalty you have and try their brands. But their prices on staples (at least the things that have become our staples) simply cannot be beat – yogurt, milk (both cow and soy), cereal, whole wheat bread, lunch items, eggs, cheese, canned beans, salsa, vitamins, nuts, etc.

    And to add to the labor discussion – I worked at TJ’s for a few months during a period of transition, and it’s a great place to work. Employees are treated really well, get regular raises, and have excellent health-care benefits – even part-time employees! I’ve seen them get a lot of flack on discussion boards for being so chatty and cheerful, but truthfully it’s just that TJ’s hires nice people who love food, and treats them well.

    I’m curious about Aldi’s, but I live in the city and avoid driving out to Robinson as much as I can.



  29. Kristin
    May 28, 2008 2:22 pm

    I stopped in GE yesterday because it’s on my way home and I needed some mushrooms and a green pepper for dinner. It took me 25 minutes to get out of there. Mushrooms and a green pepper. At 5:00 they had ONE normal lane and ONE express lane open, eight people deep at both, plus at least 4-5 people at each of those damn self-checkout things. So I’m paying double to… stand in line? Nice.

    For anyone who lives in the A-K Valley, I love Community Supermarket so much I want to make out with it. Any time I step into a GE, I gasp at the prices.



  30. Elisabeth
    May 28, 2008 2:44 pm

    I can’t wait to come back to the States. Those grocery bills seem so low compared to what I pay in the UK. For a basic weekly shop for just two of us it usually costs around £80 (a little less than $160) and gas is the equivalent of between $10-12 per gallon.

    I know it seems like a lot when it used to be so cheap, but it’s much more expensive in other places.



  31. spoon
    May 28, 2008 2:57 pm

    I need to second Cindy T all the way back at comment 20. Unless it’s a very last minute thing my wife and I will only buy from Good Apples ( http://goodapples.org/ ). Prices are HELLA better than any of the chains around here, extremely fresh, better selection, it gets delivered to me and if there has been a problem with an order they call/email me to let me know to see if there is something I’d like in it’s place. The fact I can do it online makes life even easier and the discounts are pretty good (can you tell I like the service). As I’ve tried to live a healthier lifestyle over the last couple years I’m very particular about the quality of things we buy/eat.



  32. K Dogg
    May 29, 2008 10:39 am

    I heart Aldi’s – and they pay all their employees really decent wages with full health care, plus tuition reimbursment. Every time I go to Market District GE in Shadyside, I want to cut someone.



  33. WWGRD
    May 29, 2008 11:47 am

    This line would have read sooooo much better if you used Gary Roberts instead of Chuck Norris :

    “Realizing the ridiculousness of the prices, I wanted to go to the back of the store and Chuck Norris their stupid giant chicken-man decoration.”



  34. Pam
    May 29, 2008 10:01 pm

    You should shop at Trader Joe’s. it’s cheap…and the bomb!



  35. jessie711
    June 3, 2008 9:31 pm

    I love Aldi’s and farmer’s markets, I’ll admit, over any of the places mentioned here. On the flipside I also shop at Giant Eagle. Giant Eagle is high-priced but if you scrutinize their sale ads and clip coupons from the Sunday paper you can really find some good deals with the bonus of earning the Fuel Perks at the same time. Also say if you are going to go out to eat at Olive Garden, stop by GE first for an Olive Garden gift card to earn the Fuel Perks. Smart shopping can make GE work for you but I don’t ever go there just spur of the moment, too expensive.



  36. Debbie Young
    July 26, 2008 12:28 am

    Shopping at Aldi’s is great but face facts, you can’t get everything there. Check out neocouponers.com (Northeast Ohio Couponers)for real ways to beat the pricing game at Giant Eagle!





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