Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The shops close when?

Guess what y'all? Today I cleaned out my pantry. It had to be done, I mean how else would I have found the three partially consumed bags of dessicated coconut that I've been apparently collecting in the nooks and crannies of that wonderful little closet in my kitchen? Now what to do with all that coconut? Ideas?

Seriously though, the some what gargantuan task of cleaning out the pantry did take the better part of the afternoon. I had to take a few breaks here and there to make the required meals for the little people that run around here and rearrange the pantry for me on a regular basis (hence one of the many reasons it needs to be cleaned out), but other than that I worked pretty solidly. Once I had finally sorted out what we should keep, where we should put it and how it should be stored, it was well after 5pm. During my pantry cleaning tirade, I made a list of helpful plastic containers that I thought would make the pantry more organised and easier to maintain--only I didn't own them and would need to purchase them.

Wanting to complete the task at hand so I could revel in my accomplishment, I set out to the shops (that's Aussie for stores) to purchase said plastic containers. Where would you go to buy these organisational tools (that's just a fancy way of saying plastic containers)? Maybe you would head to your local Target? Wal-Mart? K-Mart? Container Store? Perhaps it would depend upon which one was the closet to you or which one would be less crowded or which one had other items you needed to buy. The point being, you (well those of you in the USA anyway) would have a myriad of stores to choose from that would carry the items I required for my pantry. Many of these stores would be open till 9 or 10pm or maybe even 24hrs. Lucky you!

Here in Australia at 7pm on a Tuesday night I had only ONE option of shops to go to. And the winner was....K-Mart!!!!! Why is it that I could only go to K-Mart? That's because K-Mart is the only retailer of that type, or any type really, that is open after 5pm on a Tuesday. Most shops in Australia close at 5 or 5:30pm on weekdays except for Thursday and Friday when some shops practice "late night" trading. Which means staying open until 7pm on the Thursday and 9pm on the Friday! That's pretty late huh? I know, how do they do it? It must take a lot out of them to stay open those late, late hours.

When I first moved here, the opening hours of the shops was an endless source of frustration for me. It meant that if you are working full time, there were only a few small windows of time during the week that you might actually have to get any necessary shopping done. (I think we should note here that grocery stores do have extended hours and that is not the kind of shopping I am talking about). Many tasks had to be relegated to precious weekend hours because they simply couldn't be completed during the week.

When I complained to the Handsome Australian about the shopping hours, he said, "What you have to understand is that many shops here are small businesses owned by individuals or families and these people need a break. They need to spend time with their kids and mow their gardens as well." Yes, yes, yes. These people need a break too. He was right. But what happens when you need plastic containers after 5pm on a Tuesday???????

8 years later, I now know what happens when you need plastic containers after 5pm on a Tuesday...you go to K-Mart. It didn't take me 8 years to learn this, it only took about 4 years. Four years ago, we moved from the inner city to a more suburban area where I happened upon a K-Mart that is open 24hrs!!! Unheard of in Australia...at least in my experience up to that point. Imagine my delight.

Since my amazing discovery four years ago, I've frequented this K-Mart many times later in the evening when all other shopping options are out of the question. It's ALWAYS busy. I'm always thankful for the wide variety of merchandise they carry and it's gotten me out of a pinch on more than one occasion.

I think this K-Mart has done a lot for my acceptance of the limited shopping hours here in Australia. I'm now much more accepting of the idea that these small business people do need a well deserved break and should spend important quality time with their own families...as long as there's still one place I can turn to in my time of need...for plastic containers. Ahhh, K-Mart, where would I be without you?

Learn the Lingo
shops = stores

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