Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two Very Distinct Shopping Experiences

I mentioned that the law school is located right next to the large Ljubljana market.  Every day except for Saturday farmers, produce sellers, random clothing stalls, and purveyors of tourist junk all set up in a large square. Here's an aerial shot:
I actually found the experience sort of overwhelming at first.  There are a lot of stalls, and some featured produce that was clearly not local or farm fresh, like bananas.  I asked my colleague Katja and she suggested that I shop "with her farmer," Dovč.  Here is a photo of the stand and the farmer:

Very friendly, and the vegetables are electric every time.  And as a regular, she will slip me a few extra carrots on the sly, which invariably makes me happy.  It is a super personal and likable experience all the way around.

The weird thing about the market from an American point of view is that it appears that many or most Slovenians buy their food daily, from small producers, in a manner that has not changed all that much for the last 700 years or so.  I LOVE the Market Square Farmer's Market, but it is a reaction to the dominance of the American grocery store and a twice a week special occasion, while the Ljubljana market is an unchanging, everyday part of life here.

For comparison purposes, consider my other regular shopping experience: the very American (although French owned) E.LeClerc.  The girls actually call it the French Walmart, and that is about right.  It is in a large mall next to the ring road.  It is huge and carries everything from shoes to housewares to groceries and baked goods.  Here's a shot of the interior:

Here is what is awesome and super cheap at the LeClerc: Wine, cheese, chocolate, and coffee.  Seriously, check out a shot of my cart:
Here's what's expensive at the LeClerc: Everything else.  But if the wine, cheese, and coffee is good, you know I'll be back.  

The juxtaposition of the two experiences tells you a lot about European living.  There is a strong resistance to fully embracing ecommerce and the Walmartization of retailing.  Ljubljana still has about 15 different small bookstores, for example.  And yet, time waits for no one, as the various very American style malls ringing the downtown prove.


  1. Thanks for capturing and sharing these everyday experiences. I love it!

  2. One of your best here, Ben. By the time you get to LeClerc, it is a total shock! The difference between your farmer and that place is amazing and it doesn't just speak about Europe (I remember the French stopping each day to buy fresh bread), but more importantly what it says about America! And what's important to us. I am biting my tongue! Love mom