Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Aldi Shopping Cart Experience

My wife and I both enjoy fresh fruit. So we went crazy when she saw an incredible deal at Aldi on blackberries. We ended up buying 8-6oz containers for 69¢. Normally we pay almost $3 for that size container. We do most of our grocery shopping at either Aldi or Walmart and It usually just depends on what we are looking for. Walmart has a greater selection but Aldi's prices on certain staples cannot be beat.

If you have ever been to both Aldi and Walmart you know that there is a vast difference between the two shopping experiences. But there was a subtle difference that caught my attention this past Sunday.

All of the Aldi stores I have ever been to have a peculiarity when it comes to the shopping carts. All of the carts are chained together and you have to put a quarter into a lockbox on the cart in order to use the cart. I have an "Aldi quarter" that I keep in our car just for the occasion. I can say with great certainty that the quarter that is in the car right now is not the same quarter that I originally put in there. Yes there have been times that I have used it for extra change but it is more than that. And it is due to the subtle–yet maybe the greatest–difference between shopping at Aldi and Walmart.

There is a sense of community in the Aldi parking lot that is very different than at any other shopping mall or plaza. When most people approach the shopping cart corral–either to get a cart or to return a cart–they are looking for other people approaching the carts. It is easier to simply hand someone a quarter for their cart than to go through the process of unchaining or re-chaining the cart. My experience has been that people are genuinely happy and grateful to either hand over their cart or their quarter. It is just a minor way that people can help one another out. It is a little thing but it really changes the shopping experience.

As I handed over my cart to a woman on Sunday, I received a very genuine sounding "thank you." And that is when it struck me that doing the little things for others really can go a long way.

Matthew 25:31-40 tells us that Jesus said:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"

Let me be clear that this passage is not teaching us that if we do good things that we will make it to heaven. Rather what Jesus is saying is that when we are truly his followers then we will not neglect the small ways of helping people in life. Giving someone my cart in the Aldi parking lot did a good job of reminding me of this fact. As followers of Jesus we should be looking for the small ways to serve others.


Further Reading:

Faith & Works: Paul vs. James by Greg Koukl is a great article regarding how faith and works fit together.


Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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