Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shopping in Ukraine

There is a truism that people with money have no time and people with time have no money so plan your marketing strategy accordingly. In Ukraine, the vast majority of people have no money and seemingly unlimited time. And the shops and goods are organized accordingly.

There are small kiosks in every corner with essentials like bread, milk, beer and cigarettes and Mom and Pop grocery stores every few blocks. People walk so not only can they not travel far to shop, they cannot carry much home so they shop almost every day.

When we were in Canada last, Tanya looked at the streets said “Where are the people?” There is no one on the street. Here people are visible all the time, day or night, walking, walking, walking*. Public transportation is excellent but even then, you can’t carry much. Taxi service is everywhere and not expensive by Canadian standards but who can afford it here when a good salary is maybe $200 to $400 per month.

Pensioners have nothing, literally. Their pensions are so small; they only cope by having gardens and growing much of their own food. Those who live in villages are fortunate as they have garden space at hand. City dwellers may travel to villages where they have connections in order to garden. There are also garden places at the edges of towns. For that reason, big apartment blocks in the cities, instead of having underground parking, have individual underground root cellars.

Shovels and garden tools come without handles to reduce cost. People will reuse an old handle, carve their own, or buy one sold separately. Garden hose is sold by the length, no ends. Building hardware (nails, screws, bolts, etc) is sold by each or by the gram.

We have giant economy size in Canada. Here it is how small you can package it, so someone will have the cash to buy it. The new grocery supermarket has a huge bulk frozen section from vereniki (perogies) to shrimp so people can buy as much or as little as they want. Very little prepared food but lots of ingredients. People don’t open cans to cook like I did (and still do if I can find cans)

One thing it does is cut down on garbage. If we could recycle paper and bottles the two of us wouldn’t even have a bag of garbage every two weeks.

*up to the old inn door?...sorry, it is just how my mind works.

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