You are never far from a supermarket in Zagreb. The local variety is called Konzum and they are literally to be found on every corner. Once, in class, Bruno declared that you couldn’t go 150 metres without running into a Konzum, and he may have been right.
We have a Konzum at the end of our street, a distance of some 150 metres, and another in the hospital across the road – a distance of about 75 metres.
C and I have taken this to be kind of weird and slightly amusing. How can there be so many supermarkets? How can they all be making money? The Konzum brand is owned by some super-wealthy possibly-shady entrepreneur, so perhaps there’s a vast conspiracy, putting in a Konzum every 150 metres in order to, I don’t know, wipe out competition and turn us all into Konzum addicts.
Konzum is a gateway drug to something else.
I was forced to look at this in another light last week. One of my colleagues used to live in the US, and he said he found it awful that the supermarkets were so far out of town. “Food is part of our lives,” he said. “But they all have to drive out to the supermarket just once or twice a week. I hated it. I’m used to picking up one or two things whenever I need them.”
Konzum – or any other supermarket – is part of every corner because food is the central part of every Croatian’s life. At breakfast they’re thinking about what to make for lunch. At lunch, they’re planning dinner. And at dinner, they’re thinking about what’s in the fridge, or what they’ll need to pick up tomorrow, in order to have a couple of decent meals the following day.
There is no CEO-induced marketing conspiracy to put a grocery store on every corner. It’s a universal mindset. They’re there, and they do well, because Croatians need them.
Now, excuse me, I have to pop down to get some milk for my tea. And maybe a few slices of ham for lunch.