Grocery Shopping In Israel
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,
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.
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!
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!