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Not Made in the USA: Trader Joe's

By

Say it ain't so, Joe.

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In 1913 the first Aldi opened outside of Essen, Germany and by 1950, Karl and Theo Albrecht -- the sons of the founders -- had expanded to 13 locations. It quickly separated itself from the pack by eliminating the tedious rebate system and simply cutting the initial cost -- a novel idea in Germany at the time. The stores also actively removed and replaced items that weren't selling well.

Today, Aldi is an international powerhouse. It operates over 8,000 locations, including 1,000 in the US.

The business practices and principles of Trader Joe's have been maintained from the time Joe opened the first of the chain, through its new ownership, to present day. By offering its own specialty products, Trader Joe's cuts out all middlemen. It also buys directly from producers. The result: low cost items, mostly falling between $2 and $4.

Additionally, environmentalists around the world can agree on the strong green awareness in the pair. For starters, Aldi doesn't offer disposable bags for free -- it charges for them. Patrons typically bring their own carts or bags -- they'll even pick up emptied cardboard boxes found in the store.

At Trader Joe's, except for a conflict with Greenpeace over the selling of endangered fish, the company prides itself on eco-friendly goods: It sells only products with no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, MSG, or added trans fats.

In the end, I have to tip my cap to men like Trader Joe, who stuck to his guns, sold products he believed in, and upheld a moral standard that a whole lot of companies can learn from. And to Aldi, for being confident with its purchase of Trader Joe's -- confident enough to be content with keeping it exactly the way it is, long lines and all.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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