Going back to basics

  • 25/09/2008 02:00
  • 25/09/2008 02:00
GROCERY STORES. Grocery stores in the U.S. are a typical specimen hit by this malaise. For years, the trend among grocery stores has bee...

GROCERY STORES. Grocery stores in the U.S. are a typical specimen hit by this malaise. For years, the trend among grocery stores has been to keep expanding, offering customers more choices than they really need or want, and more often than not cramping smaller stores out of the market. One couldn’t enter a grocery store to pick a few items or a fast meal without having to wander along long giant aisles a feat too time-consuming for time-starved workers. At times, finding only a regular-sized ketchup bottle among the hoard has eaten up too much time in a busy day because of the different varieties, sizes, and now even colors offered!

Recently, however, the trend has come to a stop as working customers exhibit a liking for smaller, simpler grocery stores. After years of giant emporiums bombarding their neighborhoods, many have found a fresh new breath in the shape of smaller stores that emphasize fresh produce, grab-and-go meals and drinks, and similar goods in constant need.

Safeway has opened a smaller version of their mega-stores in Southern California, Giant opened a Giant Eagle Express last year as a test run before spreading them across the country. It offers customers looking for a quick and inexpensive meal, milk or toiletries the opportunity to dodge endless aisles and long check-out lanes. Even the epitome of mega stores, Wal-Mart, now plans to open “marketside” stores to test-run this concept.

Fortunately, in Panama, the expansion of supermarkets and the introduction of discount megastores did not jeopardized the existence of the neighborhood “mini-super”, known to many Panamanians as “el chinito” given that it’s a market predominantly run by Chinese immigrants and their descendants. As traditional retailers in the U.S. rediscover the wheel by establishing small grocery stores, we can enjoy the comfort of living in a city that knew that bigger was not always better.

HANDICRAFTS. Another move back to basics that I have notice is in the realm of handicrafts. In the U.S. as in Panama, people now flock to flea markets for the joy of buying a product from its original source. If you are lucky, you get to see the craftsman in action, sewing, molding, arranging his or her work—making the act of buying much more fulfilling compared to just grabbing it from a shelf at a store.

With this in mind, Mrs Iliana Wong and her team have organized “Expomanualidades” in Panama for over a decade. Now in its 15th year, the handicrafts fair will be held next week October 3 -5 at ATLAPA. The fair will run from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will count with the participation of handicrafts experts, manufacturers of materials used for handicrafts, and several stalls of craftsmen and woman selling jewelry, regional dresses, embroidery goods, among other creations. Additionally, visitors will enjoy folkloric performances, typical Panamanian foods, and an array of international confectionary goods.

“Expomanualidades” invites guests to rediscover the satisfaction of the simpler days of purchasing, where transactions were from man to man. I invite you to visit the fair and interact with the craftsmen and women, ask them about their work and their inspiration, and indulge in the joy of a purchase with a human touch.

El presidente José Raúl Mulino celebró la mañana de este jueves 18 de julio su primera conferencia de prensa matutina en el Palacio de Las Garzas. Mulino...

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