EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - New businesses are coming to town, and they bring a new mode of suburban shopping with them.  The Route 18 corridor is seeing a re-vision of itself as a marketplace.  Like many suburban areas in New Jersey and across the nation, East Brunswick is morphing into something new.  Are we going to be required to think about shopping a bit differently?

ALDI, a European-style grocery and home market, is coming to East Brunswick, paired with the Burlington store that will occupy the former Pathmark building on Route 18 South.  Some distinctive aspects of "shopping Aldi" are the store-brand products that equate to name-brand products but which sell for a much lower price; all-self-shopping (no on-floor staff assistance or departments); cart deposits that are returned when the cart is brought back; and a wide choice of organic products and produce.  ALDI also sells home products, wine, and beer.

The website home page cites the different approach that shoppers can expect at Aldi:

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"Bags: Bring your own bags or buy our reusable ones at checkout.

Saving Green: Everything we do from our smaller, energy-saving stores to recycled bags and cartons capture the very essence of conservation. As a result, you can save up to 50% on the majority of your needs.

Our Brands: ALDI brands are made of the same, or even higher, quality than national brands. Plus, they’re backed by our Double Guarantee. So you can be sure you and your family will trust ALDI brands for delicious satisfaction.

Select Assortment: While a typical supermarket carries about 30,000 items, we sell only the weekly must-haves – most of which are our high-quality brands. Smaller inventory means smaller stores, which leads to lower rent and electricity costs. This allows us to pass the savings on to you.

Select Hours: A typical ALDI store stays open during the most popular shopping hours. Staying open later would simply add labor costs – and raise our prices."

Some Google reviews of the ALDI store in Piscataway include the following comments:  ""Clean grocery store, great prices, better quality than most store brands." "Great place to buy a variety of nick-nacks and candy." "This store is great with a very lively and hard working staff."  

Conversely, one review of the Piscataway store in Consumer Affairs added, "ALDI uses an advertising technique that I do not like. They advertise an item like chicken legs for 88 cents per pound and then stock a small amount. They do not offer rain checks. Generally, in NJ, I find that their prices are not as good as Shop-Rite and have a limited number of items. I guess they do not violate any laws because in the small print they say, "Quantities are limited." They also say, "Items may not be in all stores."

Mayor Kevin McEvoy says, "ALDI brings an economic breath of fresh air to EB because the consumer goes to the store to pick up the particular items that are a real savings to them. One resident told me you can save one-third of your weekly grocery bill by shopping there.  Furthermore, they pride themselves on a large selection of "organic" foods and that appeals to today's consumer."

According to Market Watch, ALDI was founded by the Albrecht Brothers - the name ALDI combines "Albrecht" and "discount" - one of whom left the company to purchase the Trader Joe's chain. "But while Trader Joe’s has a cultlike following, ALDI has a somewhat down-market image in some areas. But it appears it is trying to change that, as it has done in the U.K., where it and rival Lidl have been remarkably successful in gaining market share from the country’s main supermarkets. Aldi’s U.S. chief executive, Jason Hart, recently told the Los Angeles Times that the chain has been attracting more affluent customers and that its newest stores are in middle-income and upper-income areas."

ALDI would join Shop-Rite, Stop and Shop, and Wal-Mart as supermarkets on Route 18.  Remember, though, ALDI wants you to bring your own bags.

Like other new businesses in town, ALDI is also hiring and will hold a job fair at the EB Holiday Inn and Suites on February 16.