The charm of the streets

Despite being convenient, shopping at supermarkets can be monotonous

The charm of the streets

With the advent of slick supermarket and general store chains, the entire grocery shopping experience has been sanitised and glamourised to a huge extent.

Gleaming metallic carts, boxes of vegetables wrapped in cellophane and orderly lines have replaced the bustle and chaos of most traditional street-side markets.

But while these chains might spell convenience to most customers, they also have their own set of disadvantages.  Most supermarkets store tinned fruits and vegetables over fresh ones — preferable because they’re less perishable — and costs are hiked quite a bit.

Besides, many of them lack the personalised, quaint charm that street-side markets do.
Metrolife speaks to a few Bangaloreans to find out whether they shop between aisles or on the streets.

Although most freely admit that supermarkets offer all manner of conveniences and quick-fixes, Iris, a retired English professor, believes that lack of certain personal element. “They have such attractive discounts — but I feel that something is missing in such places. Old markets have a human touch and it feels good to be remembered by the sales-folk for one’s likes and dislikes,” she reflects.

This is a trend that she sticks to even while travelling abroad, explaining that it’s easier to get a feel of the local culture if one visits its traditional markets.

“I went to Chiang Mai (Thailand) a while back and refused to enter a mall — instead, I took a tuk-tuk and went to a few shops where I could eat real Thai food cooked on the streets. Of course, at first a mall is a thrilling experience too — but the personal element is missing.”

Others aren’t very particular about shopping in a familiar environment, but prefer street markets because of the freshness of the produce.  Sudha, a homemaker, steers clear of supermarkets and instead makes weekly visits to the vegetable market in Malleswaram.

“At times, I go to the markets in Yelahanka as well. I prefer these street markets. In most stores, one has to check the date bars and expiry dates of products. But in traditional markets, I feel assured that the vegetables and fruits are fresh,” she explains.

While she isn’t very comfortable buying loose rice and wheat at street markets, she’s quick to add that she doesn’t pick them up at supermarkets either.

“I have a regular retail shop near my house and have the products delivered home,” she says.
Raghuram, an advertising professional, takes a pragmatic stand — both sorts of markets have their own pros and cons and he shops amply at both.

“It really depends on what one wants to buy. Stuff like grain and other fast-moving consumer goods are much easier to buy at a bigger store. But I think vegetables are better at street markets,” he states. Dismissing the notion of preferring the ‘experience’ of street-side markets, he
clarifies, “It’s not really about the experience — I think there are logical benefits in terms of range and freshness.”

Comments (+)