Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Shopping Experience in Turkey

By Margie
Forum Leader for Turkey

I think shopping is fun anywhere in the world. Shopping in a country like Turkiye is amazing and varied. The country is so vast and full of contrasts. There is literally something for everyone!

From the chic, luxury shopping centres in Istanbul to the tiny open all hours grocer’s shops sprinkled in every hamlet, village, town and city. From the little old man who sells vegetables door to door to the garish sights and sounds of the local weekly street market. From the mysterious alleys of Kemeralti in Izmir to the smart boutiques of Alacati. From the Society Bazaars that sell genuine fake Louis Vuitten handbags to the newly popular Outlet Centres.

Bakkals are great, really handy grocery stores. You can buy anything from a packet of needles to a jar of pickles. There are thousands of them all over the country. Usually run by men and sometimes by women. Open all hours; in the winter from about 7 am until 10 pm; in the summer from 6 30 am or so until midnight or even later!
One may pop there to get a fresh loaf and a newspaper before breakfast.
At lunch time if one needs a pot of yoghurt and a lemon, just nip out and pick them up!

Picture the scene, it’s Sunday evening, 7 30, your little girl suddenly tells you she needs a new exercise book for school the next morning! Typical! What to do? Dash a couple of yards to the Bakkal and pick one up. While you’re at it get her a bar of chocolate to go in her lunch box and a couple of beers for you and your spouse to enjoy later! No need to get the car out and drive all over to the nearest supermarket. Mehmet Efendi, your friendly Bakkal Amca is at your service!

The photo is of a Bakkal in Golcuk. That’s a small village near Odemis, about 100 km from Izmir. It’s by a lake and up a mountain, so it’s a popular picnic area. Notice the bottles of drinking water and bags of charcoal on the pavement. In the summer ice cream firms supply freezers and umbrellas. Other firms provide stands for packets of crisps and snacks. That’s the owner’s moped parked outside. There’s a barber’s shop next door, with the clothes dryer arrayed with towels.

In spite of all the shopping malls and mini express markets opening everywhere nothing can replace Bakkals. They provide a vital service and are the hub of the community. They deliver to people’s homes. People even lower a basket on a rope from a higher storey with cash and a list in. The grocer fills the basket with the required items and Ayse Teyze pulls up her shopping!

Sometimes customers are given credit and the shopping and amounts listed in a book for monthly payment. Generally no interest is charged. This is a life saving system for students at university far from home or blue collar workers on a tight budget.
Years ago Bakkals always had a phone that members of the public could use. Nowadays they sell mobile phone cards as well! Even though they sound as if they belong in the past, they are actually very up-to-date!

Long Live Bakkals!

Would you like to know more about everyday life in Turkey? Introduce yourself on our Turkey forum where you will receive a warm welcome.

No comments: