Ever try out the grocery chain Aldi? And if so, how did you like the deposit for a checkout cart and cardboard boxes instead of shelves? Rebecca Schuman was certainly enthralled, writing at Slate that it's "the best grocery store in America." Sure it's only in 32 states, and it requires you to bag your own groceries, but its high-end goods are well-priced—and perhaps more importantly, it represents what Schuman calls "Teutonic efficiency." Hardly surprising, considering the store is incredibly popular back home in Germany.
Aldi was born when two brothers running a German grocery chain disagreed over cigarette sales in 1960 and broke the company in two: Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud. Transplanting to America, Aldi Nord became Trader Joes—which retains only one cost-cutting measure, private labeling. Now Aldi Sud is our Aldi, incorporating "the entire German grocery store experience (aside, alas, from employees yelling at you if you do something wrong)." Schuman loves it so much that she hopes it will usher in more German living, including "the ubiquitous bicycle lanes; immaculate, punctual public transportation; and, finally, required paid vacation and parental leave." Click for her full piece. (Read more grocery stores stories.)