Archive for 'On The Road Again'


dutchchesseshopwindowA little while ago, I posted a blog entry about a Dutch supermarket which refused to take cash. Here are a couple of more photos from the same store – or rather two photos of the same cheese display…First impressions are seldom wrong. Of course, I would expect to see cheese displayed in the Netherlands. Not necessarily in supermarket windows, but then we are used to the American supermarket model here in New Zealand, the one with huge glass frontages and not the quaint European ones…with not so quaint ideas about accepting cash…but I digress. And not only did cheese not come as a surprise but also the fact that they had whole of wheels of cheese on display could be expected, after all, we are talking about the Netherlands here…

facebookcheeseblogWhat I did not expect to see was the sign perched on top of the cheese, the one inviting the passing public to visit the store’s Facebook page. What a neat way of combining century old tradition with modern marketing concepts. I was so impressed, I nearly forgave them about not wanting to take my cash! In typical Dutch minimalist fashion, the store is called Marqt…Market… The website is in Dutch only…to be expected… but one look at the imagery will wet your appetite I bet. Food does not have to be complicated, but it needs to be fresh and professionally merchandised. That is something Marqt does well. Very well.

Ready for Check-In?

MarksSpencerBlogGround level Gatwick Airport, London, and British Food Retailing at its best. At first glance, nother else than yet another Marks & Spencer store. On closer inspection, I found that the only way I could buy fresh food was packaged…with the rules of the British Airport Authority and the Discount Airlines which allow travellers to consume their own food on board already taken into consideration. The ultimate in consumer convenience. Anyone can slap a store into an airport precinct. But this is something else altogether. What’s more, the food on offer was appetising, diverse in its offer and presented in such a way that I did not care about price.

BayWa – Bayern Munich Fan Extraordinaire

baywa bag
Wandering through one of Munich’s shopping streets last Saturday, I came across a BayWa promotion….in their role of Bayern Munich sponsor. Being the naturally curious fellow that I am, I stopped for a visit and was promptly accosted by one of the promo girls, screaming into my ear, how absolutely marvellous it was that Bayern Munich had managed to get into the playoffs – and would I like to win a set of tickets for the playoffs?

Wow, I thought with a typical consumer reaction, pretty impressive.  And yes, I sure would like to be at the Munich/Dortmund Champions League final at Wembley later this month…that was the playoff I thought she was talking about. So I handed over my details and received this little bag in return. Glossy bag, bottle of water, an energy bar and an absolutely misshapen Granny Smith apple.

“What’s all that?”, I asked the young lady. “Well”, she said, we would like you to know a little bit more about BayWa. The water stands for our energy business, the muesli bar for our building supply activities and the apple represents our agriculture business. And we just love Bayern Munich.”

I did not take a closer look until I got back to my hotel later on and unpacked the bag properly.  The apple sure was not a good sight from a company which seems to consider itself to be a premium apple merchant.  I guess, one simply can’t just expect every apple to be the same…as one can with bottled water and muesli bars… or heating oil and building supplies…the prices might change but at least the product consistency would not change drastically.  Lessons to be learnt.

The lesson I learned was to read the fine print.  BayWa does not sponsor Bayern Munich, the soccer club…. but the Bayern Munich basketball section, so even if I win the tickets which I doubt very much, I would not be going to Wembley Stadium but to a basketball game in Munich.

A bit of a let down BayWa.



Another Step on the Wall

The Great Wall of China

And no – I did not like my picture being taken but at least it proves I have been there!

It is said that the Chinese Wall can be seen from the moon.  Unfortunately, the claim is actually a myth – but even so, the Wall is a very significant structure.

Three factors  amazed me about the Wall.  Firstly, the crowds.  We were there at 8am and so were thousands of Chinese – from all parts of the country according to my guide.  Secondly, the pride & respect.  The Cultural Revolution of the sixties clearly dealt to some parts of the country but even Mao appeared to have some respect for the handiwork of the old emperors who went before him.  And today’s Chinese citizens are very proud about the Wall and what it represents.  Thirdly, the scale.  Without cranes, without engines, without any aspect of the modern technology we take for granted, the Chinese created something they deemed was necessary and it became a legacy.

Walls do not have to be physical manifestations to be effective – the use of phytosanitary regulations as a barrier to control imports is one example that comes to mind.

But that’s a whole other blog post for another day.

In a Chinese Supermarket – Part 2

This is what greeted me at the entrance of the supermarket:

5+ A DAY!

How about that for promoting fresh produce?


 This fruit carousel also had grower information on display.

Signage was a mixture of pre-printed and handwritten.


  Going fishing supermarket style!


In these supermarkets, fish on ice is considered 2nd grade product.