I’ve always been a supermarket enthusiast, and recently, I had the chance to make a quick jaunt over to the new Lidl grocery store, nestled comfortably in the heart of the Columbia Mall in Columbia, Maryland. If you’re like many folks in the area, you might be accustomed to shopping at the big chains like Giant or Safeway, but let me tell you, Lidl offers a refreshing change that might just tickle your curiosity.
Firstly, parking is a breeze, but don’t forget to remember where you parked – the Columbia Mall is quite a maze! A short stroll from your car and you’re greeted by the sparkling clean and inviting exterior of Lidl, immediately setting a positive tone. It is in the lower level of the former Sears store. You don’t have to go into the mall to access it.
Once inside, you’re hit with a smorgasbord of goods, ranging from fresh produce to pantry staples and even non-food items. They’ve got all the bases covered! They usually have a couple of aisles of random household goods that are usually bargain-priced. For example, one day I bought a heat gun that they randomly displayed – perfect timing as I was working on repairing a phone and needed to melt some glue.
Now, here’s the rub. Prices. As of May 2023, I found the pricing to be rather competitive. Fresh veggies, fruits, and even meats were quite reasonable compared to the other grocery behemoths. Their bakery section deserves special mention. Those freshly baked chocolate croissants, rolls, baguettes, and German sourdough bread? Yes, please!
Their in-house products, or “private label” goods as they call them, are a hit. I have to admit, I was initially skeptical about the quality, but to my pleasant surprise, their off-brand cereal gave the Captain a run for his money. So, if you’re on a budget but unwilling to compromise on taste, these might be your new best friends.
Despite all its glory, Lidl is not without some limitations. Although the store layout is spacious and well-organized, the selection might seem somewhat limited compared to your traditional supermarket. You won’t find 50 types of mustard here, but the essentials are all neatly stocked. Having said that you will find certain things that aren’t in your typical grocery store. Things like Spaetzle – a German pasta which is great in soups.
Customer service, you ask? It was a mixed bag. While most employees were courteous and helpful, a few seemed somewhat preoccupied. However, it wasn’t anything too egregious to dissuade me from future visits.
On a final note, bring your own bags or be prepared to purchase reusable ones at checkout – they’re all about sustainability here. They were doing it this way even before Howard County’s plastic bag laws were enacted.
As always, rules are in place for everyone’s safety. No unattended children, no pets (unless service animals), and, of course, no sampling the grapes before you buy.
To conclude, the new Lidl grocery store at the Columbia Mall offers an exciting and cost-effective alternative to your traditional supermarket run. It may not fully replace your weekly trip to the local grocer, but it’s certainly worth a detour to mix things up a bit.
Will you be giving Lidl a shot? Let me know in the comments. And if you’ve already been there, don’t hesitate to share your experience. Happy shopping.
[Like this review? See my review of Costco and find out why I think almost every family should shop there.]