Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am completely annoyed by how often shops in Turkey, particularly grocery stores, run out of a certain product. You'd think that they could anticipate the event and reorder when stock runs low. I feel a little forgiving when it's a small independent shop, who may not have the money to be stocking a lot in advance, and whose owner certainly doesn't have any real retail training. But when major chains, Turkish and foreign, are regularly out of something I've made a special trip to buy, it drives me crazy.

My local supermarket, Carrefour, only seems to carry Sütaş brand light yogurt half the week. But since it is the only brand of yogurt whose non-fat version tastes any good, I refuse to settle for another brand, and often go home empty-handed. My local Carrefour doesn't even sell the müsli or bread I like, and has only a very limited selection of real fruit juice, but that's a topic for another blog post. For those items, I often go to Metro Grossmarkt in a neighbouring city thirty kilometres away.

I am smarter than to make a speacial trip just to Metro, and usually combine it with other errands, stopping in at Metro on my way past. But that doesn't make me any less annoyed when I can't find what I'm looking for. After all, it's a German company, and its employees have presumably been trained well. Last week there were several items on my list that I couldn't find, including Hahne müsli, the only musli available here that is reasonably priced and doesn't have an exorbitant sugar content. A stock clerk informed me that there had been a sale on the item the previous week, and so they'd sold out. Is that an excuse? I thought to myself, outraged.

And to add salt to my wounds, when I complained to a manager, who then investigated my müsli crisis, I was informed that according to the computer, there was indeed more müsli somewhere in the store, but that it had been misplaced and was sitting on a skid somewhere high up on a shelf, and needed to be found.

The no-sugar-added fruit juices I like were likewise out of stock that day, and rather than settle for a sugary variety, I bought none.

If I seem unusually picky, might I defend myself by explaining the incredible joy I felt when I finally found these favourite grocery items of mine in the first place. In the case of the yogurt, I taste-tested a different brand's fat-free variety every week, deeming them all absolutely awful, before discovering Sütaş' delicious, creamy, you'd-never-guess-it-was-low-fat yogurt. And with the müsli, I went from one extreme -- no müsli -- to buying extremely expensive 150-gram boxes of sweetened Turkish varieties, which would be empty after three breakfasts, it seemed. And I'd gone over two years without drinking any juice at all, stubbornly refusing to drink the admittedly delicious sour cherry and other flavoured 'nectars' which contained no more than 20% real juice and lots of added sugar, and fondly reminiscing about my freezer back in Toronto, which had always been full of tins of Minute Maid frozen pure orange juice -- with pulp and added calcium. So the discovery of new products I truly loved was so sweet, that the disappointment of not being able to find them is all the greater.

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