What You Didn't Know About Aldi's First US Location

If you're a dedicated Aldi customer, chances are you head there at least once a week (if not more), and routinely check their ads to see what new goodies the company has available. All true Aldi fans know that the company didn't start out in the US — according to the Aldi website, the very first store opened in Germany in 1961 — but even the savviest Aldi shoppers might not know how the discount grocer made its way from Europe to the United States, or where the first US Aldi store opened.

According to the company website, Aldi now operates over 2,000 stores in the US, spread across 36 states, but the now-huge chain of discount grocery stores started out much smaller. Winsight Grocery Business reports that the very first Aldi store in the US opened in Iowa City, Iowa in 1976. It was originally a Giant Food store that briefly closed for renovation before reopening with a new name as the very first US Aldi. Iowa City's Aldi was part of a movement of dozens of Aldi stores popping up across the Midwest in Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois in 1976.

The first Aldi store took shoppers some getting used to

According to Winsight Grocery Business, though there were other discount grocery stores around at the time, the cost-cutting measures used at Aldi (which are still used by the company today) were unfamiliar to shoppers. Store ads from 1976 had to remind shoppers to bring their own bags or boxes for carrying out their groceries (Aldi doesn't supply grocery bags, which helps keep their prices low), and that they'd see products for sale in their original cartons instead of on displays.

Additionally, the first Aldi store only carried about 450 different items and didn't have any fridges or freezers — meaning the only perishable items you could find were potatoes, onions, bread, and margarine. Most grocery stores at the time also stamped the prices directly on the packaging of each item, but Aldi displayed their price next to products instead and had paper sheets with the prices listed available for customers to carry around as they shopped. Unfortunately for superfans, the very first Aldi store isn't open anymore; according to Winsight Grocery Business it closed in 1977, but Aldi opened another location near the same site just a few years later in 1985. Even though the first US Aldi isn't still open to shoppers, it kicked off a massive grocery store chain that's now familiar to customers across the country.