Saturday, June 23, 2007

Greece Shopping Department stores and shops in Greece

Shopping in Greece


Shopping has changed dramatically in Greece the last 30-40 years. I would like to make a Greece shopping journey back into the past, before the onset of the huge supermarkets and department stores, credit cards and on-line shopping.
Back in the 1960s the word 'supermarket' was unknown in Greece, instead we had the local Bakalike (grocers shop) and, in some neighbourhoods, the famous 'local and colonial' shops. At the time, in Athens, there were only two department stores, the Minion and Katrantzos. The latter specialised in athletic and sporting items and lasted until some years ago when, unfortunately, it was completely burned down.

Instead of today's facility to buy on credit in the 1960s we had the "dosas". This was a salesman who used to go from door to door selling mostly clothing, on a weekly installment basis, to the Greek housewives. He would return every week, or in some cases month, to collect the installment until the item was paid for.
With the economical development of Greece, many professions have been disappearing. All kinds of tradesmen used to travel from door to door to make their livelihood For example, the rag and bone man, with his mule and cart or the 'manavis' (greengrocer) with his donkey. There were men on bicycles selling ice-cream and others on horse and carts selling blocks of ice and the man who used to plump up the flock in mattresses, knife and tool grinders and tradesmen who re-galvanized cutlery.All over Europe during the 1960s many of these tradesmen existed and Greece was very similar.

Equally, like the rest of Europe, the shopping system in Greece has changed considerably today. Credit cards are common place and used to purchase all kinds of items, from cars to feta cheese at the supermarket. One difference perhaps where Greece lags behind the rest of Europe is the use of on-line internet shopping.
As yet, the big supermarket chains do not offer this service and even when booking holidays in Greece flights or hotels, the Greek will typically use a travel agent rather than the internet. The availability of bank loans and credit, as advertised through numerous television channels and the media in general has had a big impact on the increase of house and car purchases. One could argue that the knock on effects of this availability has negatively impacted upon the traffic problems and lack of parking spaces in the big cities and also the islands.. More people now can obtain a loan to buy a car with monthly payment over several years. The result of this is that many Greek people now own two or three cars.

Many international companies have opened franchised shops in Greece. Some typical examples are Spar grocery stores, Carfour department stores, the Swedish IKEA stores, the German Praktiker selling DIY goods, also ALDI, the German discount grocery giant is planning to open around 370 stores in Greece in the near future. From England there is Marks and Spencer's, Virgin Stores and Body Shops, from Italy you can find Bennetton fashion stores and from across all over Europe and America. many other internationally known stores are appearing in Greek High Streets.

Having said all this, however, it is true to say that the most successful sales outlet in every Greek neighbourhood was, and still is, the Periptera (kiosks) selling many of the basic goods that you may run out of and need in a hurry; the old 'milk shops' that have now become mini-markets (like the English corner shop) where you can find almost any foodstuff and household goods and the weekly street markets selling all manner of goods and traveling to different neighbourhoods from day to day.

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