So its a fact. We are the lucky ones. The largest Finnish hypermarket has finally opened its doors to the public. And we just happen to live within a radius of 2 kilometer from this beauty. Its green. At least its label is green. Green label just as its counterpart in Chile. What a coincidence. Its big, just as its counterpart in Chile. The parking space is crammed with cars of suburb shoppers and inside you'll spot the happy families, going to shop food as if it was an enternainment park. Yak.
Until now, I have always tried to avoid the smaller version of this conveniece store. Already at its first, second and thirds stage I found it annoyingly big and difficult to find what I was looking for. I always ended up buying things I had not planned to buy and the bill was always disappointingly high. Hey come on, it's supposed to be cheap! But it isn't. And I spent tripple the time inside in comparison with our local market. So I have tried with all my forces to to avoid this place. Gone there maybe three times a year, and the most common reason for my slip in principles is either that this place has the only Alko (state owned liqor shop) in the neighbourhood and the only metal recycling spot.
What a paradox; I go to the green hypermarket because my green values force me to recycle just there. But the green hypermarket is nothing but green. And this new enlargement is making it only worse. Today, Sunday (!)(in Finland only recently stores were allowed to keep open on Sundays, many still keep Sunday as a non-shopping day), it was like driving in the city center at rush hour. The queues already started inside Haga, almost a kilometer away and getting into the round about just outside the massive store was a major task of strategic driving. I actually came to think of the round about Perez Zucovic in Santiago, before Avenida Kennedy went underground. Ok, now I am exagerratings, Finns would have a nervous breakdown in a roundabout like Perez Zucovic, but still I saw that trafic mess in my head as I navigated in and out from the roud about just north of Ring 1.
After having dropped off some 10 kilos of accumulated glas and metal at the recycling spot, I was about to turn around and go to our own local market. Was not up for this shopping frenzy that seemed to be going on inside the hypermarket. Neither eager to support this kind of craziness. But, but, but. Daughter in the back seat had spotted some green balloons and she insisted we would go inside. Besides, I still had another bag of bottles to be returned to Alko's bottle recycling spot inside the complex. So we parked the car and started our long walk...
It is terribly annoying to have to go and get a liter of milk in Finland's biggest hypermarket - you could just as well go out for your evening run, since the distance from the entrance to the milk and back is one (!) kilometer long. And as I was accompanied by a three year old, this kilometer could have been even longer as the place had its attractions. Balloons at the entrance. A bit further down a merry-go-round (!). I was observant on that one and managed to take a detour without the three year old noticing. Then, at the deepfried aisle, I hear how they announce a Moomin show to take place just about right now...next to the deepfried aisle. Good thing the three year old does not understand Finnish, I think to myself, and navigate quickly further towards the milk stand...girl is cooperating and understand that in this crowd she needs to keep close and behave.
I later realize that we reeeally need ice cream for our afternoon guests. So we head back to the deepfried area. Busted! Three year old enthusiastically hands me the balloon so that she can run towards the Little My and Moomi's on stage. My, my. Guests are arriving in less than an hour, how will I get us out of this situation without a scene? Miraculously I manage to convince the girl that another character of Moomi is hiding by the ice cream fridge, and she goes with me. Lucky me, there is actually a character similar to this one, the Dumle-man, handing out candies to all kids. We make it to the cashier without further drama. I thank the sugar in the candy for that.
Outside it takes us another 15 minutes to get the car out of the parking lot. The queue out to the round about is just building up. At 2 p.m. the shopping frenzy is just about to start. I say to my girl that I really dislike the green hypermarket and next time I prefer our local market instead. I hear my girl say that she prefers the green hypermarket. The marketeers of the place would have been satisfied. In less than half an hour they had succeeded in turning the green hypermarket into the preferred place of shopping of my three year old. Child marketing - I thought it was banned in this country!
So let's go back to the concept "green" here. The label of this place is green and the balloons handed out at the entrance were green. But that is about as green as it gets. The rest is nothing but green. To go to this place it's preferrable that you take a car - how else will you get all that stuff that end up in your shopping cart during the kilometer long walk with you back home? To our local market I usually walk and get all the stuff packed into the stroller. Secondly, do you really need all that stuff that end up in your cart? I mean, electronics, clothing, toys, food from thousands of different options, home improvement,etc, etc, etc. Since my days of extended maternity leave started , I have managed to become quite a concious consumer regarding what is needed and what not. But this place really makes it hard to keep fingers away from temptations...be it 70% chocolate or French specialty cheese...
If we include the social impact of this place in the green concept, then the result is even worse. We lost our local pharmacy when this place opened its first expansion about a year ago. Our local pharmacy! In an area were most inhabitants are old, without a car, and only survive because of prescribed drugs. Its cruel that these old ladies and gentlemen nowadays have to get on a bus, or take a taxi, walk almost a kilometer, to get to the pharmacy. Cruel. Some weeks ago we got a letter from our local bank account manager. She invited us to the gran opening of their new facilities in the hypermarket building. Do I need to tell you that we did not go to try the cake? Then there is the threat (or did it actually already happen?) of our post office relocating to this place. I love our post office with the kindest personnel in town. They have found more than one of my many internet-shopped-packages in their shelves. I do not at all look forward to having to go to the "green" hypermarket to pick up my packages in the future. Come on! This is why I started to shop over the internet in the first place - to not to have to go to these hypermarkets or shopping malls!!!
No, this place gets thumbs down from me. I am even thinking of finding another place for our recycling and alcohol needs (alcohol is rarely a problem, as the problem is mostly inside our cupbord, filled with unopened bottles). This is just a trend that I do not want to be apart of and I will be very sad if others in our neighbourhood do jump on the train and make both local flower shop, local market and local book shop go out of business. No hopes for Christmas shopping with children in the sled next winter?
My father-in-law use to say that buying bread became extremely expensive when their green labeled hypermarket opened its doors just a kilometer away from home. Local bread shops went out of business and the family had to go to the hypermarket for bread. Do you think they made it to the exit with only bread in their shopping cart?
Very, very disappointed with local politicians who gave green light for this development. Thumbs down for them. Good thing we are voting next Sunday- parliament, unfortunatelly not local government - I'll still make sure my candidate is against this kind of craziness.