A pink taxi

A pink taxi

June 22, 2011

Dreaming of Costco

My first office work was managing my grandmother's coupons. Tossing out the expired ones, cutting, categorizing, accounting the savings. It was also my first lesson at being penny wise, pound foolish.

Who doesn't enjoy lavish grocery shopping? I wrote a post about the incredible experience of shopping at Whole Foods in the USA, at the Geneva fruit and vegetable market on wednesdays and saturdays, or at the San Remo market with my father in August. He knew about burrata mozzarella before any Petite Maison experience!

I also wrote about ethnic community oriented shopping in Dubai, how the Westerners and Westernized shop at Spinneys and at the Organic Store (I managed to fit in Jonathan Franzen, my beloved author in that post),  and how the Emiratis shop at Coop while the rest of us shop at Carrefour.

The community that stands out at Carrefour, and particularly at the Deira City Center location are the Iranian tourists. It is known, and pardon the stereotype of course, that the Iranians rush to Carrefour, as soon as they land at the Dubai airport. Given my own Iranian lineage, I have the tendency to rush to that megamarket or "hypermarche" as the French call it as well. Carrefour may not be the best bargain  in Dubai. Coop certainly is: I can fill my cart to the brim with everything except Meats and only pay 300dhs. That only gets you two elegantly filled yellow bags at Spinneys. Carrefour's cart full, including meats, will reach 750 dhs.

At Carrefour, I am sure to stock up on things like cereals, waters (you can find Badoit!), French turkey breast (for escalope),  and a variety of French snacks for school. I can even find French stationary required for school! Indeed, it is the Francophile in me that shops at Carrefour also.

As soon as I have landed in San Francisco I rush to Costco. Like the Iranians who arrive in Dubai, I also crave the American products and deals offered by such a discount store. I stock up on medicines, pharmaceuticals, cereal bars, socks. I find my son a pair of adidas sneakers, my daughter some PJs, we even buy bedding, like the tempurpedic Swedish pillows.

Everything is a good deal at Costco because products are bought in bulk. The cart fits two children seated side by side, and EVERYTHING is extra large for the large consumption of American families.

In fact, in Dubai, as a desperate housewife, I find myself stocking on loads of sliced turkey, two of the same cereal boxes at a time, litres of sparkling water, gallons of Isostar. When I run out of laundry detergent, I buy two boxes at a time to stock up again. I am then reminded of the buy one get one free concept that is rarely found in Dubai but that abounds in the USA. I also remember the huge sized packages of soaps, or shampoo bottles at Costco, not to mention all the good deals in the fresh and frozen section.

I can't help but wait patiently for them to bring Costco to Dubai! It would save me loads of money,  and many trips to Carrefour!


  1. Shopping is an art,choice of outlet is a science.In the 80's,shopping at Safeway,Georgetown was a chic outing,where all the shakers and movers in the Capital shopped.Then came Whole Foods with its organic choice of expensive articles.
    The biggest experience is when you visit Costco in the US,where size is important,and saving on pennies make a big difference at the end of the month.Americans donot shop,they splurge.They stock their gigantic refrigerators and storage space,as if the end of the world is coming,as they feared it would on May 21,2011.
    Shopping in Dubai is different.There is a Western expat Spinneys,an Indian Choithram or Lal's,a Lebanese Lifco,or a cosmopolitan Carrefour.The local families and Arab expats with huge families still roam the large open vegetable,fish,meat markets,where bargains can be made.Then there is the little "baqal" oulets in Karama,Satwa and other old quartiers of Dubai.
    I know of some friends and family who have never been in a supermarket or a shop.Those are missing a lot of real life.

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