Comparing prices between the Salvation Army’s DMG Foods, Safeway and Aldi

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Photo by Craig Bettenhausen.

DMG Foods is a new endeavor for the Salvation Army, a Christian group known mostly for thrift stores and charity work. We wanted to answer two questions about the store: How do its prices compare to other grocers? And is it mostly intended for lower-income shoppers, or is it for anyone?

Maj. Gene Hogg of the Salvation Army, who launched the store, explains that DMG is primarily a platform for job training and nutrition education programs. Although the prices are low, it’s not food aid. It’s also not a fundraising mechanism for the Salvation Army, he says, and any profits will go to a Maryland women’s shelter.

For more about DMG’s mission and programs, read our profile here.

Hogg and his management team say they expect a diverse customer base. They’re not targeting any particular socioeconomic bracket, but rather a geographic area roughly a quarter-mile in any direction from the Harwood store. The hope is that now, many people living nearby will be able to walk to get their groceries.

So the store is for anyone. But how do their prices stack up with other nearby options?

 DMG FoodsSafewayAldi
Oatmeal$3.79/42 oz$3.99/42 oz$2.39/42 oz
Canned Black Beans$0.89/15.5 oz$1.25/15.5 oz$0.55/15.5 oz
Chicken Thighs$0.99/lb$1.69/lb$1.29/lb
Onions$1.46/3 lb$3.49/3 lbs$1.49/3 lb
Apples$1.49/lb$1.49 - $2.99/lb$0.99 - $2.25/lb
Cheddar Cheese$3.49/8 oz$3.29/8 oz$1.69/8 oz
Plain Nonfat Yogurt$1.99/32 oz$3.49/32 oz$1.89/32 oz
Cottage Cheese$3.39/24 oz$3.49/24 oz$1.79/24 oz
Applesauce$1.79/23 oz$1.99/24 oz$0.97/24 oz

We compared the prices of 13 common items at DMG, Safeway and Aldi. Almost every staple at DMG is quite a bit cheaper than at the Safeway a few blocks away at E. 25th and N. Charles streets.

The price difference is slim when compared to Aldi, one of the least expensive grocery stores in Baltimore. We looked at the prices of the location at W. Cold Spring Lane and Dolfield Avenue, which is accessible by car from the 21211 and 21218 zip codes, but inconvenient to reach by foot or public transportation. DMG continues to have the best price on eggs, and also won on broccoli.

However, Aldi generally undercuts DMG by a small margin. DMG has a limited selection of produce, meats and fish—for example, when we shopped there, the store had chicken wings and thighs, but no breasts. The produce looked to be fresh and of good quality, and  children can grab a piece of free fruit near the entrance.

On everything but cheddar cheese, DMG was less expensive in our comparison than Safeway. Aldi was less expensive on average, but by a small margin and not across all the items we surveyed.

So overall, DMG Foods offers a cheaper way for anyone to get groceries in the 21218.

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  1. the cheapest stores if you want to shop cheap is Sav a lot. very cheap and have their own brands. their meat is much cheaper and seems to have a good quality. but they don’t have brand names and don’t have everything. but the best for making your money go the farthest. not sure where they are there.

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