Corner Store

I grew up on the East Side of Detroit, post WW2, near the City Airport. Then, Detroit was booming, steel and autos, proud and popular. At the corner of our block, there was a store where, if I had a note from my mum, I could buy her a package of cigarettes. The real grocery shopping though, was done with my dad’s car taking us to Kroger super market about a mile away. And that is how I grew up for some 25 years. Groceries came from a well kept super market. Cigarettes and spur of the moment snacks from the corner store.

Then I found myself living in North Africa. No super markets and lots of corner stores, called bakals. We bought almost all our groceries for daily sustenance at the bakal. Convenient and efficient.

Time travel to the present, in Switzerland–no bakals, no corner stores but there, to serve local small populations, are local mini supermarkets–downsized versions of supermarkets. Very convenient. They are the smallest in scale of stores increasing in size as the surrounding populations increase in size. Yes, there are supermarkets. Yes, there are regional sized superstores.

Yet, even with all that, there exists these days an annual excitement like we use to have 50 years ago in Detroit when we would go downtown once a year for a special shopping festival–like the Christmas season. Here, once a year, end of the harvest season, in the capital city of Bern, there is an onion festival. There are two images in this post. Above is the 2018 festival itself. Below is the content of a shopping bag from the festival. The shopping bag collection of goods can not be found in local stores now, or fifty years ago, or in North African bakals.

Not bragging–just amazed at the range of goods. Pain d’épices from France. Onions and garlic from Germany and France. Decorative garlic, onions and peppers from Switzerland. Honeys and blood orange marmalade from Southern Italy and magenbrot from Switzerland. 

Holiday season is upon us like no corner store could imagine.

Best wishes to all.

IMG_0327

Shopping bag content.

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