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Why does Aldi sell such weird things?

The German supermarket chain specalises in "super buys" - but how do they pick them?

It happens to the best of us. You pop out to the shops for bread and milk and come home with a traffic cone…
No? well you obviously haven’t been shopping at Aldi.
Since their 2001 launch in Australia, the German supermarket chain has wooed shoppers with cut-price private label products.
But the budget price tags are not the only thing attracting shoppers.
Aldi also specialises in “super buys” – limited edition products that are released into stores twice a week.
Products on sale this week include fitted sheets, floor cushions, metal bed frames, lawn mowers and… bright orange traffic cones.
Some super buys have caused retail mayhem. Last year customers queued outside Aldi stores trying to get their hands on limited edition girls’ clothing designed by fashion icon Collette Dinnigan.
Retail analyst Brian Walker told Fairfax that Aldi’s “seemingly random” super buys have been incredibly successful for them.
“They've really picked up on some strong elements in the consumer psyche, and one is to challenge the boundaries of what we expect supermarkets to be and do,” he said.
Aldi didn’t give much away when Fairfax asked them where they get their stock from. However a spokesperson did say that most special buys are the result of consultation with suppliers.
"Some of our suppliers are niche boutique manufacturers, while others have much larger operations and produce some of Australia's leading household brands," she said.
"Each of Aldi's special buys is carefully chosen by one of our expert buyers and assessed.
"Only once it meets our high standard for quality, are they signed off and scheduled into the special buys calendar."
Walker suspects that some special buys are products that someone somewhere in the world needs to get rid of.
"They've got specialist buyers and they'll go to auctions houses, clearance houses, they'll see end-of-season sales, liquidation sales - they'll have feeder buyers through all sorts of markets," he explained.
So what exactly are people going to do with their new traffic cones?
Mother of three Sarah Pruett has the answer:
“My master plan: 1. Buy traffic cone. 2. Place on my head. 3. Be a unicorn.
“Thank you Aldi!”

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