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Grocery Shopping In Israel

Updated on September 26, 2013
Even at an outdoor market, It is important to provide great service and have competitive prices, because there are so many people selling the same thing.
Even at an outdoor market, It is important to provide great service and have competitive prices, because there are so many people selling the same thing. | Source

For the 12 years that I lived in Israel, it was my job to take my mother-in-law shopping. For the most part I truly enjoyed it. I loved going to the shuk with her. We would take the bus straight from our village to the market. This was an experience! These were our schoolbuses and drivers that took us to the city twice a week for 4 hours each. On Wednesdays it was one city and Thursdays a different one. You didn't have to shop at the shuk. You could go anywhere you wanted as long as you knew where to catch the bus if you needed a ride home. And when I say ride home, I mean to your door. I lived down the street from Miriam so I would have them drop me off at home, unload my own things then run back and help her with hers,

The Shuk

Oh, how I loved the shuk and how much I miss it. At the shuk you could buy pretty much anything from clothing to produce. There were all kinds of candy, bakery quality baked goods, fresh vegetables, tablecloths, light bulbs. Pretty much anything you could need, you would find there. Strategically placed around the the shuk, were other stores, like butchers and fish mongers. I probably should mention here, a critical reason for shopping at the shuk. These men and women selling their produce are your neighbors. The shuk is the equivalent of a farmer's market but with much better prices and you probably know half of the people selling. It illustrates a community that collectively supports each other. Please check out my friend, billybuc's hub on Community Projects!

The Israeli Shuk.

You can buy homemade condiments at the shuk.
You can buy homemade condiments at the shuk. | Source
And any spice you could think of!
And any spice you could think of! | Source

On a mission

For me, it's all about the shopping. It always has been. I would go armed with my tote bags and lists and shop, shop, shop. At some point, I started to take my own car. It was just easier and there were no time constraints that way. I would park in between the shuk and the stores and walk first to the stores, check out the prices and styles, then head to the shuk. If I could get it cheaper there, I'd buy it. If not, I'd finish the shuk shopping, load the car and go back to the stores again! I would walk about 5 miles, lugging my goodies and I loved every minute of it. When you shop in a shuk, you will undoubtedly uncover some form of treasure! Something unusual and unexpected like the Victoria Secret panties that I found. 4 pairs for $10!

A different attitude

Another stark difference for me was the way any and all shopping was regarded. It was treated as an "experience". One could argue that any thing you do is an experience but the Israeli people take going to the store to a different level. Because of the lack of autos, cost of gas and distance between two places, going to the mall was a family outing. Everyone would shower, get dressed up and head for the mall for an evenings entertainment. It was a special treat that did not happen often and was cherished by everyone. When they built the superstore groceries, they became the new Saturday night entertainment! They also had restarants in them or were strategically placed in strip malls that had fun stops and eateries! If we didn't take the kids on a Saturday night, they might get lucky and go with a friend or family member. It was all about the getting out and getting seen! Now, I'm back in the USA. Going to the mall is an almost daily occurrence but only because I work there! Generally, I go to the entrance nearest our optical and skip the mall altogether!

Oh how the kids loved the reminders of home. I, on the other dreaded it. Almost $10 for a happy meal!
Oh how the kids loved the reminders of home. I, on the other dreaded it. Almost $10 for a happy meal! | Source

Grocery stores

There was even a small grocery store within walking distance of the shuk. He kept his prices low and allowed people to use his carts to go back and forth. He was no fool. When I first moved there in the 90's, these small ma and pa groceries were all they had. They were older, crowded and not very appealing. All of a sudden, things changed and right in the beginning of the Millenium, they started building super stores. And that was the beginning of a new era, loyalty cards, coupons, you name it, they had it!

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    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Lyrics, thank you so much for your interesting and thoughtful comments, not to mention your generous shares! I also wish that there was more shopping like this here. I miss it. Take care!

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Btrbell, interesting write. Very wise words of wisdom. For a man, I shop a lot. I really like it to be honest. It actually helps me from my business sense cause I see what works and doesn't. We have a local market, but they rarely see business. The main reason I would suspect is location. When you have a place where other can meet, socialize, ect, a need is presented. Wish they were places like the shuk here. Voted up, useful, interesting, and shared. Best wishes.

      Lyrics

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, thank you, Leslie! Blushing a bit;) I forgot to talk about the fish tales after. Everyone shows off their wares and we all gaze with envy and compete to see who got the best buy!

      So happy you liked it and thank you fopr your votes and shares! So appreciated!

      Funny story. Last night I started to write about being a bit stuck in the middle of this challenge when all of a sudden I pounded out 3 more! Have a good one. I hope you enjoyed DWTS . I am just watching now!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      You got a system girl - i loooove an organized shopper...lol!

      The shuk looks like an absolute blast - friends and neighbors all together doing something happy and productive - buying and selling, socializing - shopping!

      Your description is so true, Randi - i could almost smell the fish and the flowers!

      I smiled this entire read - what a treat!

      You're doing great in your challenge!

      voting and sharing, dear!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hey Martin, I can and I will! So...SF Farmer's market? Well that is a bit closer than Israel...may have to check it out sometime. I've never been to San Francisco!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      @Sommer, so nice to see you here! Thank you so much for visiting and voting. It was an amazing experience. I guess I can life-changing! I wish that I could say I took the photos but I can say that I do enjoy the search!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      @Carol, I do miss it! There was so much about my life there that I miss. These hubs are bringing it all back. Thank you for sticking with me and your wonderful comments and votes! I hope you are staying warm because I am getting cold down here in the valley!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Keep going! You can do it! If I did know better, those great pictures look like SF's farmers' market.

    • SommerDalton profile image

      Sommer Dalton 5 years ago

      Voted up, awesome, and interesting! Such neat experiences you had. Great details and pictures too.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      I really felt like I was there shopping with you. What fun and to enjoy fresh produce and all the other things. I love small communities that are really communities. The pictures are great and I enjoyed my travel with you. Voted UP.