Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Two stores that changed my life

OK, one of them is more than one store.

1. Carrefour Al Juraina, and, by extension, Matajer Al Juraina. They opened this shopping center in our area last summer and it has changed my life. There are four Matajer shopping centers open now in Sharjah, and their model of operation is that they are small shopping centers located in communities. Before Matajer, I made a pilgrimage to either Ajman or Dubai once a week to buy groceries. It was a time-consuming and exhausting ordeal, in part because of the distance but also because the grocery stores at large shopping centers (aka malls, and that's where the grocery stores are located in this country - they're not stand-alone structures, generally) are HUMONGOUS. There was just no way to be efficient about shopping because the stores themselves were so big. Even if you had a well-organized list and were quick about it...it still wasn't quick.

The Carrefour at Matajer, on the other hand, is somewhere between a 7-11 and a Macey's in size. Not too big, not too small. Sometimes they don't have everything I need, but the fact that I can get my weekly grocery shopping done and be home within an hour is something I am grateful for on a regular basis. Plus, there are lots of other little shops in there, too. Basically, I love Matajer and yes, a grocery store opening up nearby has changed my life. It's true.

2. Decathlon. I have no idea if this is a store in the US or not. I believe it is a French store originally. Before Decathlon, there was virtually no place in Dubai or the Northern Emirates where you could reliably find decent quality and reasonably priced sporting goods. Ballet shoes, leotards, swimsuits, life jackets, hand weights, nice exercise clothes, athletic shoes, snorkel gear, camping gear, etc. - it was hit or miss. Maybe you could find it at Sun and Sand Sports. Maybe not. Maybe you could find it at Ace Hardware (yes, we have one here, but it's different than in the US). But maybe not. And if you could find it, it was probably prohibitively expensive or not quite what you needed, and you'd just have to make do.

With the arrival of Decathlon (about a year ago), all that has changed. Decathlon has everything. They also have a store brand, so you can often find quality sporting goods for a very good price. In past years, I remember stressing about having to find a new swimsuit + board shorts because I left mine in a changing room in Oman, and worrying that Miriam was growing out of her ballet shoes and I'd have to drop a fortune on a new pair if we couldn't hold on until we got to the US, or literally wearing holes in the one pair of long exercise pants I owned because I didn't feel like spending the equivalent of $50 on a new pair. Those days are over, hooray! Thanks to Decathlon.

On another note, it's interesting to realize that we've lived here long enough that a definite sense of "before" and "after" is emerging. We've lived here long enough to witness a lot of change. When we moved here, the old-timers enjoyed telling us stories about what things used to be like here. Now we've got a few stories of our own. And I promise some of them are more interesting than "in the old days, you couldn't even buy a sleeping bag in Dubai!"


Liz Johnson said...

Have you guys been there almost three years? Or four? I can't remember.

Bridget said...

Yes, almost three years! Sometimes I can't remember either.

Jeremy Palmer said...

Decathlon has changed my life too! I love it so much.


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