I want my grocery shop back
Posted Sunday, October 27 2013 at 00:00
As we are indulging and marvelling at novel shops in malls, famous brands, food courts, cinemas and supermarkets all under one roof, the little grocery shops that cannot compete with the 30-till hypermarkets are now becoming a thing of the past.
I remember when we were kids and growing up in Kuwait, there were little grocery or convenient stores on every block of houses. Whenever we needed something we would run to the shop and purchase it.
Many times our little shopping spree was followed by a picnic under the shade of a lonely tree somewhere in the vicinity.
We sipped a soda before it got too hot under the scorching Arabian sun, and often shared a biscuit ahead of running back home.
Many years have passed since our little escapades. Huge malls and supermarkets came in to replace our little grocery shops, and apart from a few remaining scattered here and there, the once mushrooming little convenient shops faded away.
Back at home
Sometime back, I saw one such shop near our home in Kuwait closing down and went to have a chat with the owner. He looked disgruntled about the closure, but he told me there was no way he could survive the competition. He told me that he had been in this business for the past 30 years, he had built a small house back home, and had educated his children who are now grown-ups.
With the dwindling profit margins in running the grocery shop, he decided it was time to call it a day. Unfortunately he found no one to take over the shop as everyone thought it is much better to open a little restaurant or dry cleaning store than a grocery shop.
With the recent happenings of being trapped in malls due to natural disasters and terrorist attacks, I have a feeling the little grocery shops might make a comeback!
Return grocery shops
In fact I am going to make a demand that they return to our neighbourhoods. Not only because these huge spaces have become death traps and easy targets for terrorists to harm as many people as possible , but also every child today should experience the joy of walking safely in their neighbourhood, hold money, learn how to select what they like, pay for it and count the change.
Besides the joy of being able to make one’s own choice without a lot of supervision from adults, helps children understand and appreciate the value of money. It helps when they are given a limited amount of pocket money that has to run for a week.
Uganda’s stalls survive
It seems that in Uganda, though there is a surge of medium and big supermarkets, still, little stalls seem to be surviving their bigger competition, and there is a good reason for this.
To start with there are still many home gardens in the suburbs of Kampala! Fruits and vegetables are grown in the backyard and brought to the little shop to be sold. Also items like cooking oil, washing powder and sugar are divided into very small quantities, and are sold at affordable prices to people who prefer to buy such items on daily basis- as this will not drain their cash flow that might be running dry as early as mid of the month.
In my mind remains the memory of the best grocery shopper I ever saw. A little Japanese girl we randomly met in Tokyo-Japan. It was midnight, she had a little straw basket with money in it. She was walking alone to a grocery shop to pick an item. She looked confident and did not seem to mind the dark alley. This, and my own experiences makes me insist on the fact that grocery shops should never go away!