Shopping: one of my favorite topics on this blog. That is in part because I can spend a shocking amount of time doing it — if security is watching me circling the store and staring for prolonged periods at items, they must surely be placing me under suspicion — and in part because shopping in a foreign place is one of the most interesting things to do. Last weekend I finally bought a pair of winter boots, a major accomplishment checked off my list. I tried on so many pairs at one particular shop that I caught a look at myself in the mirror and was amused by the sweat on my brow. Also, a little grossed out. Anyhow, when I triumphantly brought the chosen pair to the register, I found that I was 4 hryvnias short of the 1499 hryvnia price. That’s 17 cents. A walk home and back later, the furry leather gems were mine.
It’s just a pity that they set off the security alarm every time I go into or out of my grocery store, Silpo. (After the second offense, I found the culprit by sticking my boot back into the security gate and tripping the alarm. Mr. Security Guy and I both said, “Ahh!”)
Although I purchased said boots at one of the malls here in Cherkasy, I have found that many of the stores here have boutique prices and, not surprisingly, very few customers. “Who is buying this stuff?” I have asked a number of my colleagues, and it seems that there is a slice of the population here who is very well-to-do and has nice houses a bit away from the center. I guess so, or these stores wouldn’t be making any money.
So where do the majority of folks do their shopping? Well, there are numerous second-hand stores, from which I have purchased a number of clothing items, as well as many “shops” that you don’t exactly walk into. It was a new sight for me when I first walked into the mall across the street and saw that most of the places on the first floor were like little inlets, with merchandise lining the walls.
But the real action is on the streets. I have already mentioned the enormous outdoor market a block from my place,which hums with activity. But most everywhere you go, you will see kiosks selling items of all sorts.
And then you have many folks selling things without any structure at all. I’m wondering how cold it gets before they call it quits.
I could take pictures all day of outdoor shopping, but these were just from walking around the block I live on. And that ends this episode of “Foreign Shopping.” Join me next time for “Land of Fabulous Yogurt.”