Posted by: dsduffy | March 27, 2009

Thoughts on: Shopping

In America, you have strip mall after strip mall, followed by shopping centers (think: Bed Bath & Beyond connected to PetSmart, next to JoAnn Fabrics, followed by BestBuy) and of course MALLS (need no explanation there). You have grocery stores: usually located in a strip mall with a big square parking lot in the front. You park your car, get your cart and you are on your way. Then there is the extra large bulk stores (BJ’s, Costco) where you can buy enough toilet paper and laundry detergent to last a lifetime. A typical shopping trip will consist of driving to one location, parking and being able to buy most of what you need in one location. The grocery store is often next to the WalMart or Target, it is oh-so-convenient.

I didn’t realize how convenient shopping in America was until I moved to Australia. Here, you don’t have strip malls. There are streets that have stores lining both sides (called villages). There are no parking lots like I am used to. Most of the time it is parallel parking along the street, and often it is not free. There are signs indicating the amount of time allowed (1P, 2P, 1/4P, which means 1hour, 2 hour, 15mins) and then it will say Ticket if you have to buy a ticket at the machine, which you have to  make sure you have coins for. As for the grocery stores – the parking lots are usually underground lots that are free for 2 hours, and they are nice enough to have a carwash located inside the “carpark” for only$50 per wash. So here is a typical shopping trip for me: drive to grocery store, get parking ticket, find spot and maneuver huge minivan into a too-small parking space along side cement pole, which usually entails backing up 2 or 3 times to avoid hitting. Get kids out, grab reusable shopping bags, walk through lot to find the elevator (lift) or take the “travelator” to the store. Search wallet for $1 or $2 coin to get the cart trolley, enter store. Walk the aisles, remind myself to stop looking for certain items – they still don’t have Aunt Jemima cinnamon french toast sticks. Looking for cold medicine or pain reliever? Not going to find it in the grocery store. You have to go to the chemist for that. Luckily, there is always a chemist (drugstore) located in the same building as the grocery store, along with the Bakery, Bottle Shop (liquor store) and of course, a cafe.

I know I am just accustomed to the ease and convenience of shopping in America, and there are things here that I like better (the Market, oh how I love the Market where you can get the freshest produce, meats, etc).  But even after being here for 6 months, I still get frustrated at the differences.



  1. Ok, but can you buy Uggs at a discount???

  2. Having seen all this first hand, I can agree, yes, it certainly is different & a bit of a hassle … but you handle it so well! And going to the South Melbourne Market and the Vic Market is so much fun …. such wonderful fresh produce, meats, cheeses, etc. and the delicious “skinny flat whites” from the cafe. I bet you’ll miss all that when you get back to the U.S.!

  3. I had no idea for about three weeks what the chemist was. I could not find nail clippers for the life of me.

  4. Amen! My husband can never understand my frustration…and massive meltdown…when I am told, no, I can’t grab a coffee because there is no where to park. WTF? People have to strategize there just to do everyday things. That is insane.
    The whole shopping/parking aspect of Oz is a complete and utter nightmare. It’s so hard to deprogram yourself when you’re used to being able to roll your ride practically up to the door, grab a (free) cart that YOU maneuver instead of it maneuvering you, shop, and go the hell home. People from other countries will never understand the ease of life here…it’s why we’re so shocked when we go overseas and end up longing for life in America…cause it’s so. Dang. EASY!

  5. I totally agree. Shopping here is difficult. And parking is so frustrating! But one thing I do enjoy is strolling the local shops in my neighborhood. Back in the U.S. I could never visit 3 bakeries and a cake shop all within a two block span!

  6. Yes, the whole parking and trying to avoid cement columns in parking lots is crazy. And why don’t they sell cold medicine in the grocery store???
    Sometimes I have to go to five stores to find one simple thing– like the time I needed a heating pad– oh, the drama.

  7. I am making the move from California next year- and you just said the magic words- i actually had to look at it over and over. “NO STRIP MALLS” i will have to see it to actually believe that the shopping pollution has not made it there. Along with all the other awful chain stores we have here. Yaaaay! I can’t wait!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: