Parallelogram: Shopping

\One ex-pat experience explored from two points-of-view\



You are the primary go-getter for your family and home.  How and where did you shop in Madison?

Three words:  Amazon, Whole Foods, Target and in that order.  Whole Foods I would go to twice a week with Farrah Star after dropping Arlo off at preschool.  There is no better shopping than 9am-Weekday-Whole-Foods-Shopping.  Amazon took care of the rest except same-day needs which I’d get at Target.

How and where do you shop in Montreal?

Poorly and everywhere.

Losing Amazon changes everything.  Well, Amazon does exist here but with a fraction of the selection and hefty shipping delays.


Also, UPS is not allowed to leave anything at your door so if you’re not home the box goes to a holding place.  Gratefully ours is down the street but still – different.Shopping

That’s a purse, snacks, water, scooter, helmet, scarf, ball and a giant box of diapers on that stroller.  This left only my shoulders for Farrah when she got tired of walking and no hands for Arlo to hold which, you know, sad face.

It should be noted that I do not drive.  Well, I have driven the car exactly three times in three weeks: 1) to go to a grocery store but Farrah fell asleep so I turned around 2) to go to a Target but Farrah fell asleep so I turned around and 3) to go to a medical clinic.  Montreal is a big city filled with construction and emptied of parking.  The only grocery shopping I’ve done is daily trips to small marchés.  The only household shopping I’ve done is at mom-and-pop hardware stores.  Having lived in NYC and San Francisco I thought I would fully embrace this aspect of city living but it feels relentless in its pace and child-unfriendly in its space.  (I didn’t have kids in NYC and San Francisco.)  People are mostly patient with my kids but the tiny hallways and bursting shelves are too enticing.  There will come a day when I’ll be able to circumvent four curious hands while trying remember the French word for asparagus but that day feels a long way off.

When this past rainy Saturday morning presented, we took a family trip across the river to a Target.  Kris drove.  I needed time, I needed help and I needed stuff I couldn’t find down the block.  I expected a panacea but instead got a panic attack.


Kris mentioned that Target Canada is a failing expansion for the company so I looked it up to learn more (on Gawker, natch):

“Beleaguered retail empire Target announced weak-ass first quarter earnings today, thanks in large part to its disastrous Target Canada division, which lost $211 million just this quarter.”

And from an employee, same article:

“Stores have scores of empty shelves, endcaps, sections that could easily be filled with inventory on-hand, however Target DOES NOT WANT US TO FILL THEM. The POG (planogram) must be executed 100% flawlessly – even if it means the shelves are empty because what is supposed to be there isn’t on hand right now. In other words, we had way too much of things that we didn’t need, and not enough of things we did need.”

Target Canada hates money.

I will get what I need, I always do, I just have to find out how and where.  I enjoy being a regular and frequenting local, specialized shops; the people here have been helpful and friendly at every turn.  I’ll figure it out, just hopefully before Farrah needs more diapers.


You are the primary go-getter for your family and home.  How and where did you shop in Madison?

Target, Woodmans and Whole Foods.  We were at Target at least once a week.  Ms. P has asked to go there at least 3 times since we moved. Sorry chica, no Target on the island.

How and where do you shop in Mayaguez?

This is a car culture, and megastore haven. At least that is my first impression. So far we have shopped at Walmart, Sams Club, Home Depot, local food stores and one natural food store.  I’ve never shopped at Walmart before. It’s…..interesting.  And ALWAYS packed. Thankfully we are within a 10-15 min drive for all. I wouldn’t walk to any stores. A) takes too long.  B) it’s way to freakin’ hot.  C) Although there are sidewalks, I would consider it taking my life in my hands to try to walk to a store. (traffic)

These people sit in towers around the Walmart parking lot, watching for....?

These people sit in towers around the Walmart parking lot, watching for….?

Amazon was sued by, I guess all of Puerto Rico because it had considered it “international” and not eligible for Amazon Prime.  They won, so I am now an Amazon Prime member, but they don’t ship to PR a lot of the foods that I want to buy. USPS leaves our boxes at the post office (15 min drive away) but UPS drops them off at the door (always between 7:30 and 9:30 pm!!)

I haven't figured out if this is because my street is not recognized by the post office...

I haven’t figured out if this is because my street is not recognized by the post office…

I need to explore the other two (three?) natural food stores in town.


So far my shopping has been unorganized and scattered.  I hope to get into a pattern soon. And explore more of the “mama y papa” shops.  I just have to get over the fact that some of them look different than the typical Wisconsin storefront but are probably very nice inside:


a coffee shop I could try

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3 Responses to Parallelogram: Shopping

  1. Lisa Bagchi says:

    This is great! Are those vigilancia armed?!?

  2. Karen says:

    Usually if an item won’t ship from Amazon it is usually because it is done through a third party that doesn’t realize we are part of the USPS system. If you really want them to ship it, you could contact them but personally I just try to find a substitute here or get a family member to send me a big care package once in awhile.

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