03 October 2006

Wal-Mart Clones in Italia

I must start this with the fact that I have always been a staunch capitalist, even called a bit of a right-winger by some loving family members. But…

When we lived in New Mexico we preferred to shop at local stores and restaurants; we rarely visited chain establishments even though they crowded the streets of Albuquerque. We had a particular disdain for Wal-Mart for various reasons, and these stores also seemed to produce a headache if we had to visit one. We just preferred to frequent “the little guy” where the service always seemed better and the quality a notch higher, plus we had become friends with many of the proprietors.

One of the things we liked about Italy on our previous visits here was the lack of large chain stores and restaurants outside of the major cities. Unfortunately it seems the blight of chains has crept into Italy as well, though not at the level known in America. Near Ascoli there are two “centro commerciale”, or malls, with mostly chain stores and each has a huge “Wal-Mart clone”. One of these, Oasi, even has a slogan that rings like Wal-Mart: “Prezzi Bassi, Sempre” – “Low Prices, Always”. I must admit we went there our first week here as they accepted credit cards (many small shops do not), and we needed items for the apartment but didn’t yet know where to find them. I don’t think we will be making any return visits. Once again we both came out with headaches. Is it the bright lights, the stale air, or the sensory overload?

Fortunately here in Ascoli we can spend our time and money in the locally-owned shops near our apartment and fill our needs each day, and get to know and become friends with the owners. A more sensible approach, we think.

No comments: