Shopping craze

San Diego seems to have it all. It’s close to the beaches and its position on the coast keeps it relatively cool. The shopping in the downtown area beats many European cities with the main difference being that shops are larger on average, but manage to offer a far broader selection as a result. The downside ofcourse, is that even in a concentrated shopping area like downtown San Diego, you still really want a car to get around to get things done. It’s not as bad as LA, that could never exist without cars as a primary need for everyone, but it’s still noticeable.

Still, I’d move to San Diego if I needed to, if it weren’t for the heat. Even though inland heat is even worse, the constant switching between the air-conditioned buildings and cars and the humid heat outside really takes the life out of you. In the Netherlands, the word air-conditioning summons an image of luxury, over here not having AC would be inhumane.

I spent quite some time in shops and supermarkets, figuring out what it would be like to do my shopping here. One thing is for sure: you can’t be surprised at the average weight of people over here if you look at the cost of food products. If a pint of Ben & Jerry’s is only half the price of a box of carrot party sticks and a dozen of muffins costs less than a pair of apples, what do you expect? It’s the same with everything: a liter of soda is cheaper than a bottle of sparkly mineral water. A pound of ham is only half the price of the same amount of cheese. I could go on, but you get the picture.

The same goes for restaurants. It’s not hard to find healthy food and the quality of it is excellent too, but it’s a lot more expensive than getting some meat on a bun or some hard to identify animal mixture in a taquito. I guess good health is only for the rich, even when it comes to diet.

I spent part of the day getting my hands on a decent laptop, to be obtained from huge electronics stores like Best Buy and Fry’s. The scale of these stores is enormous and I had to wonder how so many stores of this tremendous size can coexist. In the immediate vicinity of San Diego alone there are four Best Buy’s. And they have to compete with similar numbers of similarly sized stores of other chains. To keep all of them in business, you’d think most Americans spend all their free time buying this stuff only to drive it straight to a garbage dump and start over.

If you ever decide to buy electronic equipment in the US, come prepared. Luckily I did, because if I had to go by the ‘advice’ of the ‘experts’ in these stores, I could have ended up with any of the devices there. Their way of sharing their expertise amounts to reading the stickers on the products while you look on. And to make things worse, often misinterpreting what the stickers are telling them too. And I’m not just basing this opinion on a single store or employee either. In all of the stores I visited, I talked with more than one of the staff, but all of them offered the same utter lack of expertise. It’s pretty bad back in the Netherlands, but this is just plain horrible.

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Jaap van der Velde

I live and breathe software, love games and spent many a vacation touring Europe on my motorcycle. Currently diving, riding, hopefully flying and gaining perspective around Oz.

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