Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sunday Scribblings: Sensation

I get the sensation that Brazilian stores all secretly are mafia fronts. Seriously. People just DO NOT WANT to sell you their products. It's like they have an allergy to profit.

Case in point illustrated here, at Walmart, but also re-emphasized by a friend the other day, who was complaining that every time she goes to the store for fresh milk, they're out. (Most milk is UHT, which comes in boxes and lasts for months without refrigeration. Some people like it, some don't. Me? Only if you add chocolate powder!)

She said she's talked to the manager and begged them to just up their order. "Can't. It'll spoil" is the response. "But I'll buy it! You're always selling out! Just me. If you buy more, you'll sell more." But they don't.

How many times do we go to the grocery store and realize that if we want to ever taste grapefruit juice/Italian version of nutella/CocoKrispies/cupuaƧu jam again, we're going to have to buy up every last one on the shelf, because the depleting stock is in real danger of disappearing forever from our lives? People of the Western world, you should be SO SO SO grateful that your grocery store looks the same from week to week, that when you run out, you can be pretty sure that your friendly neighborhood grocer will restock. We can't. My husband may have married me simply to ensure he would NEVER HAVE TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING AGAIN. And thus never be foiled by the constantly changing shelves, having to play hide-and-seek to find eggs, wandering aimlessly in search of that last item on the list...

I remember one day we went to buy ice. And there were two of those huge, people-sized freezers standing empty in the middle of the store with ICE signs on them. And I asked the employee standing there, "When are you going to get more ice?" And he said, I kid you not:

"We keep running out. So we're going to stop stocking it."

Utter. Madness. I. Cannot. Understand. This.

So we just laugh like maniacal foreigners, as we are obviously missing some key tenet of Brazilian entrepreneurship here, and go hunting, hunting for another place that will sell us what we are looking for. It will happen, eventually.


FairLady said...

Wanna know something funny? Sharon & Ray ran into this 30 years ago at language school. They stocked Campbell's soup, the missionaries bought it all up, and no more. Sometimes you just can't change culture....

Anonymous said...

Happens to me all the time! Whenever I see a product that I'm soooo grateful is in stock (usually imported products from the USA ;-)), I buy almost the whole lot because I don't know if it'll ever be re-stocked again!


Julie said...

Hilarious and informative all around, but my favorite bit? "My husband may have married me simply to ensure he would NEVER HAVE TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING AGAIN."

Some of the decisions I've seen taken by management at my various Chinese restaurants have made just about this much sense to me.

And I do like (and miss) the option of acting slightly barmy just because you're a foreigner and can get away with stuff like that. Here, in my own country, I have to suck it up and act slightly barmy purely because I feel like it. Or because I am. Your call. ;)

Wendy said...

I long to do the sort of long-term stay travel that would make this an experience I can HAVE rather than read :)