When Chris and I moved in, I marked the grocery stores on the map right away. And oh, there were several.
I won't bore you with the list, but there's kinda two highlights so far. Menards, pronounced men-ARDS, although Chris insists that should only be true of people who pronounce Target as tar-JAY. Menards is just odd, the lovechild of Home Depot and a grocery store. So you have ever had a deep-seated desire to get plywood and milk in just one stop, Menards is the place for you!
Even better, though, is ALDI. I was so confused when I went there for the first time -- it was just so small. Even the parking lot was no more than you'd find for some itty-bitty boutique, too unknown to warrant a storefront in a strip mall. There weren't even places in the parking lot to put the carts!
Yet the grocery store was there. The carts were next to the door, all strung together on chains. In order to get one, I had to put a quarter in a little slot, and magically the chain unlinked. "Get your quarter back," the sign said, "when you bring back your cart to this location!"
It got even better when I walked in. No shelves, no real aisles to speak of...just food stacked in the boxes it was shipped in. The food itself was 90% generic brands that I hadn't even heard of. Chris noticed that when I brought the groceries home. "Oh, Sara! I'm so glad you got," he paused the dramatics to read the label, one eyebrow cocked, "Freshine disinfectant wipes! Our bathroom will be so much cleaner!"
But, despite the size of the store, they had cheap produce and almost everything else on my list. I even strolled down the narrow psuedo-aisles chatting on the phone with Cindy, feeling thoroughly satisfied with my experience.
There was just one checkout lane, and the only employee I'd seen sat behind the register, pleasantly swiping items over the scanner. I waited in line, enthusiastically informed the checkout girl that it was my first time there, and congratulated myself for remembering Chris' debit card PIN. And then I faltered. It was fine that no one was there to bag my groceries...but there were no bags.
The dark-haired, round-faced attendant smiled at me. "You look confused."
"I am," I admitted. "Um." Then, fortuitously, a light turned on in my head. "Those boxes in the aisles...they're fair game?"
"Yep. Just grab as many as you need." Her eyes crinkled in a smile. "You can leave your cart here while you get them; I'll watch it."
"Thank you." I slipped between a gap in the stacks -- not really a thoroughfare at all -- and snatched a few bags of chips out of a box, claiming their receptacle as my own. When I got home, the potatoes had left dirt all over the milk jug, but what did I expect shoving them all in the same box?
I have no idea if I'll go again. I need to comparison shop for the items on my budding list of Hagmann Family staples. But it was certainly an adventure, and who can possibly put a price on that?