CLMN | Our new supermarket

CLMN | Our new supermarket

29 september 2015

On my way back from a meeting, I walked passed our new supermarket on the campus. I stopped. I turned around. It was high noon. I was hungry. Would this new shop feed me? I was curious, but also anxious. Well, the first impression was one of a shock. In front of the shop a pink crocodile (or was it an alligator?) was staring at me, with its mouth open … hmm… maybe it was hungry, too. Not very welcoming to customers… Fortunately, it was chained down to a huge nearby plant. Jungle? Yes, the concrete jungle in Flux.

But I was hungry, remember? So I just walked in, ignoring the animal like a real Crocodile Dundee. A nice smell of hot baked something was in the air, but quickly vanished. I was now in the place. Shelves, displays, all kinds of food stacked behind windows, just like in a normal food store. So what was so special about this Spar University Supermarket (the 4th in a row after EUR, UU and VU)? I heard voices but saw no staff, not even near the cash registers, which were only screens, with instructions for use in two languages: Dutch and English, of course. So I realized this is a bilingual shop. Good!

But what about the food? A closer look generated some interesting results: there was a shelf offering the famous (or is it notorious?) Dutch drop topped by a banner with the Dutch phrase “Je relatie is pas officieel als Facebook het zegt”… clear connection to social media, but what for here?

Any international food around? Oh yes, the shelf next to the drop displayed global sweets and candies with the clear invitation: “Don’t reply when you’re sad :-( get a bite!”. Oh yes a bite, this is what I was coming for… But I suddenly realized I had no money on me. Would this hypermodern shop allow customers to buy and pay later? Surely, in certain cultures a staff member would be allocated the status of being trusted for a later payment. But in egalitarian, universalistic and individualistic Holland? No way. So it needed to be my broodjes back in the office.  

I nevertheless continued my investigation about the international supply on the shelves and behind the windows. Since we are in Holland there was fresh milk - okay, I’ll let that pass. Were there any alcoholic beverages (to make up for the Cantus)? Yes, beer. The selection looked quite common to me as a non-beer specialist. What about wine? The sample offered could clearly be larger and of a better quality (I as a Frenchman with a winegrower in the family would eagerly suggest a few other bottles than the usual migraine triggers). The food was in line with my expectations now: Asian, exotic, ready-to-eat dinners like saté ajam, babi pangang and kip tandoori - interesting, kip? Is this English now? No, but the message is clear. And, of course, also Dutch dishes like stamppot and hutspot for the real diehards of Dutch cuisine…

Leaving the shop to rush to my dull Dutch broodjes, I asked an Indian customer about his opinion on our new local supermarket. “It is fine”, he replied politely, but as I enquired if he had already tried the Indian food, he said “Oh no, sir”. With a look in the eyes and a smile suggesting “this is more for you…!”. Makes sense to me. Do you want to know more about this type of supermarket, or our specific one on campus, just click on the links.

And by the way, the staff has no idea why the pink crocodile is there…

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