Friday, May 2, 2008

Scoring the Target

DSC06837 Stitch

I'm visiting HQ in Minneapolis with a Dutch physician who is a longstanding friend: it's been fun contrasting US and Netherlands social and cultural artifacts all week.

A big opportunity came after dinner last night, he asked if we could stop somewhere to pick up a disposable razor.

'No problem: in the US, there's only one place to go for that sort of thing and I know where there's one, right by the hotel...


"Sooper Target?"

Trust me, it's like Blokkers.


...'Kind of....

The Dutch do have discount stores, and large AH No 5 stores, but I've never found anything of the type and scale of Target. It makes me wonder if there isn't an opportunity to bring the first Sooper Target to the Netherlands?

I pointed out the wonders of American consumerism unheard-of back home: the mile-long aisle of baking supplies, the 34 (empty) cashier lanes, the easy availability of all types of stylish reading glasses and (synthetic) butter-drenched microwave popcorn.

DSC06818 DSC06829 DSC06824 DSC06831
He found the selection and prices more interesting than the novel types of items, though: the strong euro makes Target look unbelievably cheap.

The razor aisle was intimidating: it took some searching to find men's razors among the women's, electrics, trimmers, and gels.


And, even when we had a selection, we got (inevitably) diverted on our way to the (34) check-outs.


...which, in turn, necessitated backtracking to return the original selection to it's home. I suspect the Dutch stay thin by repeatedly dashing across the store to replace items when they find it cheaper on an end-aisle display. 'No use pointing out that an American would have simply dropped the one he was holding to pick up the one he wanted.

I asked a saleswoman where I could find a bottle of wine: she looked confused. "I don't think we sell it...maybe back in the fruit drinks?"

My friend looked smug: despite all the excess, we still couldn't stock life's core comforts.

or, at least, not in Minnesota before Noon on Sunday or to Children Under the Age of 21.


AB said...

So was this his first trip to the States? I love these kind of stories with culture comparisons/impressions. What else do you miss when you are in the NL? What do you like there that you will miss when you are back here?

The things I always buy upon arriving in the NL are Cassis soda and those snack chips that are like a cheeto with spicy coating and peanuts inside, yogurt (I love the liquidy kind, the stuff you get here is just not the same) and lunch at HEMA! They have the best broodjes (the wheat bread with seeds filled with that herbed cream cheese I can only find in the NL) and their cream of mushroom soup is the best I've ever had. Plus I love the view, (at least at the ones in Groningen and Leiden which are the only two I have been to.)

Other things, Koffie served the Dutch way, strong, in a little cup and saucer with a biscuit, at a table outside at the edge of the market. I love the little individually wrapped sugar cubes (or should I say sugar rectangles?) even though I don't drink my koffie with sugar.

Ah, I am hungry now!!

Dave Hampton said...

Hi, ab !

I really blew his mind by taking him on a whirlwind tour through the Mall of America on the way to the airport. It's really the pinnacle of American consumerism, piled high and priced to move (laugh).

He got a double-strong espresso and sat on a bench in the huge atrium to watch the roller coasters...'just couldn't belive the scale of the place.

I made a list back on December 22, 2007, about what I couldn't find in the Netherlands: I think it still covers the things I buy when I'm in the US. How does it compare to yours?

There are foodss I miss away from the Netherlands: strong coffee, bakery bread, pea soup, bitterballen, pannekochen...

But, you're right: this time of year it's the flowers, birds, walks in the parks and villages, and proximity to the rest of Europe. The days that I go exploring really give my mind a stir and my soul a rest. And it's silly, but I still miss the Dutch: running around with the physician through the galleries and shops back in Minnesota was great.