Opinion: Non-Food Aldi Finds Make Aldi a Better Store

Credit: Aldi

EDITOR’S NOTE: Like all posts on Aldi Reviewer, this piece is the opinion of its respective authors. Also like all posts, comments are welcome, although we ask users to be mindful of our Community Guidelines.

If you’ve shopped at your local Aldi anytime recently, you may have noticed the store is practically bursting with limited-edition Aldi Finds. That’s been our experience in the middle aisle at our local stores. The shelves are more loaded and contain greater variety than we’ve seen in a while, and it’s an entertaining spectacle.

We Love Non-Food Aldi Finds

Aldi has sold some great non-food specials this spring, ranging from gazebos to patio furniture to lawn care products. It also seems as if all kinds of products that were previously held up in supply chain snarls have suddenly hit Aldi stores all at once, making for very full aisles.

Aldi typically has one aisle dedicated to non-food Aldi Finds, with another aisle devoted to food Aldi Finds. Lately, however, it seems non-food Aldi Finds have been packed into every nook and cranny of our area stores. We’ve spotted toy food markets and patio furniture cushions near the main doors, with stacking rockers and ottomans near the stockroom entrance, cookware on endcaps, and treadmills and potting benches in the middle of the freezer aisle.

All of this makes an Aldi shopping run an adventure. There’s a lot to see, and we’ve had fun looking through all the unique goods available when we make our weekly trip for bread, milk, and other staples. It’s part of the fun of shopping at Aldi.

Not Everyone is a Fan of Non-Food Aldi Finds

We occasionally come across fellow shoppers who aren’t as fond of all the non-food Aldi Finds. Common complaints run along the lines of:

  • “It’s cheap junk from China.”
  • “There’s less room for food.”
  • “I don’t like how pallets full of non-food products make the aisles crowded.”
  • “I don’t like the fact that the store is busier with people shopping for non-food specials.”

That’s not our perspective. Instead, we feel like non-food Aldi Finds are a valuable part of the Aldi experience.

Why Non-Food Aldi Finds Make Aldi a Better Store

There are a few reasons why we think these non-food limited buys enrich our shopping runs.

Non-Food Aldi Finds are often things we need. We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve come across products at Aldi that were necessities, ranging from pots and pans to bedding to winter jackets. Certainly, Aldi has been known to stock its middle aisle with whimsical and not necessarily practical items such as toilet bowl nightlights or gnome Advent calendars. However, more often than not, the Aldi middle aisle is filled with highly useful things, including exercise equipment like ellipticals and yoga mats, gardening supplies such as potting mix and planters, cleaning gadgets such as vacuums, and kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, electric kettles, or toasters. After all, people need to cook, clean their houses, take care of their yards or other outdoor spaces, and be physically active. The supermarket has stocked things that can prove valuable to a home.

Non-Food Aldi Finds are often things we don’t even know we need. Aldi came to the rescue when we woke up to a flat tire during a cross-country road trip a few years ago. A couple of months earlier, we had picked up a portable tire inflator from Aldi as an impulse buy, and it just happened to be in the trunk of our vehicle on that road trip. The tire inflator was easy to operate, and it inflated our tire enough so that we could limp to a nearby auto shop to get it patched.

Our Auto XS Tire Inflator saved us from this predicament.

We also bought some Aldi self-inflating sleeping mats that changed everything for us on family camping trips. Previously, we used air mattresses, which were a hassle to inflate and deflate, and they were bulky to pack in a vehicle with space limitations. The self-inflating mats are easy to set up and take down, take up relatively little space in our vehicle, and are more comfortable to sleep on than we expected.

And where would we be without our Aldi air fryer? This kitchen gadget is healthier than a deep fryer, and we use it for cooking breaded chicken breast fillets, French fries, onion rings, hash brown patties, and even veggies such as cauliflower or asparagus seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s also a good tool for lightly toasting hamburger buns before serving.

Non-Food Aldi Finds provide entertainment … and more. We appreciate how the German supermarket is both a practical store and a store where we can find fun things that help make life better or more meaningful. This goes beyond the simple enjoyment and curiosity-satiating experience of browsing the middle aisle. (Retail therapy, anyone?) Our lives have been enriched by certain Aldi Finds.

We’ve spent many hours sitting in Aldi Adirondack chairs around our Aldi fire ring in the backyard while eating s’mores and talking about anything and everything with family and friends. We also have logged countless hours sitting on our Aldi double glider on our front porch, where we can wave to passing neighbors and enjoy a cup of morning tea while the sun rises.

Belavi Adirondack Chairs

Our Aldi chairs situated around our Aldi fire ring.

When we worked more from home during the height of the pandemic, we liked taking breaks and sitting in our Aldi two-person swing on our back patio, and our kids played on their Aldi disc swing during virtual learning breaks. All the water toys we purchased from Aldi were put to use when we stayed at home more as well, including a giant water slide, a large splash pad, and a mermaid hopscotch sprinkler.

We also have fond memories tied to vacations at various state parks and all the camping equipment we’ve bought at Aldi, including tents, sleeping bags, portable hammocks, and more.

Adventuridge 4-Person 9' L x 7' W Dome Tent (front)

Our Adventuridge tent at a local state park.

These are all non-food Aldi Finds that helped us find joy in the simple things of life and connect with family and friends.

Addressing Specific Complaints

We mentioned earlier that some people aren’t fond of non-food Aldi Finds for several reasons. They may feel like these products are cheap foreign items that may be of poor quality. While we occasionally don’t have a great experience with some non-food Aldi Finds, most of the time they work well and are good value for the cost. Non-food Aldi Finds often are not made in the U.S., but you’re probably not more likely to find American-made products at other major retailers, big box stores, or online retailers. That issue is not specific to Aldi.

It also is true that sometimes the middle sections of certain food aisles at Aldi — especially the freezer area —  can get difficult to navigate because they end up with pallets full of non-food specials during certain times of the year, especially during the Christmas season and in the spring when larger items such as patio furniture come out. That can make it frustrating pushing your cart through the store, particularly during busy times when there are lots of other shoppers in the store and aisles may only be wide enough for one-way cart traffic. However, things generally clear out after a couple of weeks, and we don’t mind the crowded aisles too much if they are filled with useful or quality products.

Aldi Will Always Sell Food

Something to always keep in mind is that Aldi is first and foremost a grocery store. Non-food products have their own space within the store, and they don’t infringe on shelves dedicated to food. Never at any time have non-food Aldi Finds pushed out food at Aldi. Aldi has no plans to reduce the amount of food it sells in favor of stocking more non-food Aldi Finds. Supply chain issues might cause temporary outages of some food or other Regular Buy Aldi products, but that’s a separate issue.

So Enjoy Those Non-Food Aldi Finds

It’s a great time to browse the middle aisle — and more — at your local Aldi. You never know what you may find. It could be something you need, something you need but don’t yet know that you need, or something that will make your life better in some way. Happy shopping!

About Rachael

Rachael is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. When she isn't busy shopping at Aldi, she enjoys cooking, gardening, writing gothic romance, and collecting more houseplants than she probably should. You can learn more about her at rachaelsjohnston.com.

5 Comments

  1. I was one of your readers who made the Cheap Junk from China comment. And a lot of it is. That said, I do occasionally by things from the middle aisles, including a bird feeder, doormat, and multi-tool. I did also buy one of those toilet seat lights, but had an immediate change of heart when I realized how disgusting it would get…LOL

    I don’t blame Aldi for wanting to sell non food items, I know profit at grocery stores is razor thin.

  2. The buyers at Aldi seem to possess an uncanny ability to predict what I happen to need. For example, I needed a steering wheel cover for my aging sedan. Bingo! There it was in the following week’s Special Finds. Same for floor mats. Same for lightweight cast iron fry pan.
    And then there was this retro electric water kettle I went crazy for…

  3. No problem with non-food merchandise, to be sure. I’ve done quite well with it. As I’ve written elsewhere, the margins on non-foods are considerably bigger than those on traditional grocery items. No problem there, either. Capitalism is all about profit, after all. One would hope that the increased marketing of non-comestibles allowed Aldi, among others, to offer better prices on comestibles. Has that in fact happened? Your guess . . .

  4. I’m also partially one of the group who find a lot of the non-food items Made-in-China cheap. That said, I’ve gotten some excellent deals on several lovely little mosaic-tile topped patio tables that after several years are still going strong with zero damage after spending their lives 24/7 out on our open deck. Lovely for wine & snacks; equally lovely as outdoor plant stands.

  5. The only AOS finds I’m not fond of are the ladies underwear (always rides down) and most of their XL yoga pants assume that just because you are XL means you are tall. Too long for us short people lol. Shoes and boots are fantastic as are most of the other AOS buys 🙂

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