Tag: shopping

Maximizing inefficiency in Uruguay

Well, not long ago I praised the “hipermercado” Géant which I had previously skewered for their thoughtless shopping cart arrangement. Turns out I was overly optimistic. Next time we went, I thought I‘d grab a cart from the front of the queue.

Maximizing inefficiency in Uruguay

Wrong: they want the same carts used over and over, every customer having to back one out.

At least their other store, our local Disco supermarket, had a pull-through arrangement. At least until very recently.

Maximizing inefficiency in Uruguay

Now they have actually installed a barrier to prevent convenient retrieval of shopping carts. Customers now have to back their cart out into the crowded area in front of the exterior door, then jockey through the one-at-a-time entry.

Unbelievable. Almost. Because Uruguay.



Géant — bargain shopping in Uruguay!

In case you hadn‘t guessed from my last post, I‘m being sarcastic. But that horrible restaurant‘s location in Carrasco does provide a key to bargain hunting: it‘s near the airport,* where you can catch a flight to Miami (or ironically cheaper, New York).

Though I don‘t normally talk about ridiculous prices in Uruguay (but yes, occasionally), even after five years I still find myself amazed by things like this (I trust you‘ll recognize the first as Amazon):



This is Géant, the French WalMart in Carrasco. I have pointed out the stupidity of their shopping cart system,  then mistakenly praised them  a few days ago(for something that was probably there all along, though I hadn‘t noticed it).

Yesterday I parked near the front end of the shopping-cart area, thinking I‘d be helpful and do as they say, taking a cart from the parking lot and returning it.

Géant shopping carts: hooked on LIFO

But no — apparently LIFO is still alive and well at Géant: you have to back a cart out from the other side. This is how people think here; people regularly “back out” carts at the local Tienda Inglesa, disrupting everyone in the store‘s worst checkpoint (on average; restocking employees regularly block aisles), rather than walk four meters further and take one from the front.

The good news: these carts with the chain through them will probably be in great condition ten years from now, having never been used!


* As we left the horrible “Chinese” restaurant, we saw the plane overhead carrying our friend to London, giving whom a ride to the airport was the reason for being there in the first place 😉

I don’t really even want to go to Brazil


And yet, I keep entering, even though I’ve never won one of their shiny red cars.

For this month, at Tienda Inglesa checkout you get a separate receipt, which you scan near the front door, at a machine that spews out coupons to fill out. I got tired of handwriting them in past drawings, so had a rubber stamp made, stamp them at home, and forget to take them the next time.

They’re giving out one trip per day, on a charter jet to Brazil to watch Uruguay play England.

Unlike certain friends, who have gone twice to Brazil and returned very disappointed, I have never been too interested in going to Brazil.

But if the lack of a shiny red car in my driveway is any indication, it’s not going to be a choice I have to make any time soon.

Price of meat in Uruguay

USD prices per poundCativelli Sausage: 4.58

Panceta—bacon: 5.20

Chicken legs:1.51

Picada—lean ground beef: 2.28

Chicken Milanesa: 3.58

Nalga—top/bottom roast: 3.90

After ordering at our favorite carniceria (butcher shop), I realized I had no money. No problem, the owner said, taking my name and writing the amount on a strip of paper. The next day, I saw he had a stack of these slips over an inch high. Mine was someone near the middle, so obviously this is a common thing. Interesting.
How do these prices compare with current prices elsewhere?

Christmas decoration in a store that gets it

Let’s not forget the real reason for the season: to sell shit. In this case, remote-control dinosaurs.

Alas, this ain’t e-gadget-obsessed Tokyo. I waited in line at Tienda Inglesa Atlántida in back of, and in front of, shopping carts laden with slabs of meat, chorizo sausage, cheese and baguettes, the ubiquitous gallons of Coca-Cola poison, plenty of beer, potato chips, plates and glasses for vacation dwellings, deli sandwich packs, a head of lettuce and some tomatoes (RIGHT ON!), but…

…not one remote-control dinosaur.

While even the impoverished in the north remain enslaved by consumerism, here the holidays mean time with friends and family. Granted, shoppers in Tienda Inglesa Atlántida aren’t the social equivalent of the unruly crowd waiting for free toy handouts at a Salvation Army in Pittsburgh. Nonetheless, there exists in Uruguay a family “glue” that will trigger a touch of nostalgia in USA-Americans of a certain age.

Personally, though their presence makes my life a little more difficult, and a lot louder, I really do wish for our seasonal visitors a really enjoyable holiday time with their family and friends, playing with a soccer ball or fishing during their endless hours on the beach.

I think they understand that a fucking remote-control dinosaur adds little to that experience. I hope so, anyway.