Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The Monthly Marjane Shopping Trip
Once a month I go to a superstore here called Marjane where I load up on cleaning supplies, paper products, beauty products and some foodstuff. Occasionally I purchase something I’ve been wanting for a while … like a vacuum cleaner or a chauffage to heat the house. I also routinely buy myself a treat like any cheese that isn’t “La Vache Qui Rit” and crackers, or a medium-sized bag of peanut M&M’s (which never seem to remain unopened during the taxi ride home).
I always try to go when the store isn’t crowded because I don’t really like to shop at superstores and I prefer to get in and out as quickly as I can.
But that’s not always possible.
One deterrent to my swift shopping is the products themselves. I rarely recognize a brand name and rarely purchase brands I know because they cost a lot more. So I find myself peering at labels in French and Arabic trying to sort out if it’s the product I need. I look at the pictures and try to recognize some words. Cleaning products pose the biggest challenge.
Another deterrent is the store is constantly changing the layout. Paper napkins used to be in the front isles but now all paper products are in the back along with other household goods. Summer patio furniture now occupies the space previously devoted to kitchen utensils.
The merchandise is haphazardly priced and even then you can’t trust that the price on the product is what you will be charged at the register. And woe to the shopper who picks up a product without a bar code. Try to purchase it at the register and you’re in for a lengthy wait while someone ambles over to the register, looks quizzically at the product, then saunters off to search for its location. If you are extremely lucky, they will find another with the required sticker. More often than not you are told the product can't be located and it’s impossible for you to purchase it today. Then the cashier sets it aside.
I don't like hypermarches.
Some people like to ‘shop’ at Marjane and fill their cart to the brim with anything and everything that catches their fancy. Then they just walk away, leaving the full cart in the middle of an aisle, creating a kind of obstacle course for those actually intending to purchase the contents of their shopping cart. This seems to be a kind of leisure activity.
And while there are plenty of employees wandering around stocking shelves and arranging displays, and putting things back from overfilled and abandoned shopping carts, they aren’t very useful if I have a question about a product. To begin with, I can’t communicate with them as I can only speak a few words and phrases in Arabic -- and my French is not much better. When I do manage to get my point across, the employee generally tells me to buy what I am asking about -- or not.
After getting through all this and filling my plastic bags with my purchases, there is still the challenge of finding a taxi and schlepping the twenty-some-odd bags to my door. Of course I could always hire a carossa to wheel my purchases home when I emerge from the taxi at Bab Boujloud, but there never seems to be one handy. So I distribute the weight of the bags as evenly as possible and race down the derb before the circulation to my hands is cut off.
Once home, I survey my purchases. Invariably I have spent 1,000 DH. I see before me a relatively small display of products for the cash outlay … mostly over-packaged, brand name knock-offs and some cheaply made products from China.
I am relieved that my monthly shopping foray is over as I put everything in its proper place and sit down to finish the bag of M&M’s.
Posted by Water Dragon at 1:14 PM