May 31, 2016

a love hate relationship

this is the shopping site for any western brands.  everyone has a love hate relationship [mostly hate] with them because it's the only place in Moshi to get things that a westerner might want or need.  every trip is painful and avoided for as long as possible.  usually in the US if i go to make a purchase i have a simple process.  i know what i need, i go directly to the place in the store where they stock that product, i proceed to the checkout to pay and leave.  

that is not possible here.  in the US we complain when the shops are out of eggs or milk because of a snowstorm and it might take a day or two to get the supply chain back on schedule.  i laugh at that now.  at this store the supply chain is so terrible you never know what products will be in stock.  every trip requires a scanning of every shelf to see what products are there.  everything is expensive as it is mostly imported items.  once, i a moment of weakness i paid $4USD for a can of Campbell soup.

one week they might have white girl shampoo and then next week none.  yes, that is what we call it.  Africans do not use the same hair care products so there is a very limited supply of shampoos and conditioners that westerners would use on their hair.  lack of these products lead to a look that i refer to the  as the 'aid worker without a shower in a week'.  i digress to only explain why it is necessary to shop here.

after scanning each shelf with the focus of a scientist on the edge of a new discovery you fill your basket with the stuff you hoard in case you might not see it for another three months.  i was buying some liquid hand soap and this actually happened.

him:  can we please buy the good smelling soap?
her:  no, you have to have the antibacterial soap.
him:  cringes as i grab the last coconut soap on the shelf.
me:  moves quickly on as i smile smugly knowing i have the last bottle.

oh, bonus, on the way out they check your receipt against what is in your bag, treating everyone like the shoplifter they aren't.

i've dealt with them as a vendor as since we've tried to get them to stock product for years.  it's a nightmare company to deal with.

there's one alternative.  a small shop called Aleems where they consistently stock product and even take delivery of special items from the bakery i like in Usa River.  Aleems deserves it's own post as every trip is like a pilgrimage.  otherwise, it's a 1.5 hour drive to the next closest 'supermarket'

so, next time you casually throw your favorite brand of soap or pasta sauce into your shopping basket think of me and the painful process of shopping here and understand that's what makes america great.  

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