Grocery Shopping for the Cost-Conscious

The bare-bones grocer also stands out for what its stores do not offer. You won't find a deli, a bakery or a pharmacy at Aldi. Want a grocery cart? That'll be 25 cents. The small deposit helps prevent theft. Paper or plastic becomes a financial decision: Paper costs 6 cents per bag and plastic bags cost 10 cents each.

When it comes time to pay, Aldi only accepts cash or debit cards, which saves the company millions on credit card fees.

Finally, be prepared to bag your groceries, only a handful of employees, all of them non-union, staff every store.

The private company, founded in Germany, has stores in 29 states. It opened its first U.S. grocery in 1976. And it is expanding just as the economy contracts, with plans to add 100 more U.S. stores this year alone.

The discount chain hopes to retain customers who get hooked on low prices during hard times. If it's successful, then the store will likely stay "trendy" even when the economy improves.

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