Buy it when you see it

After exploring the options for groceries in Hua Hin, I’ve started to favor the Makro Food Service store a couple of miles north of my apartment. Not that it’s an easy option.

makro3First, I have to walk about  half mile just to catch the public taxi on the main highway. The taxi drops me off at the front of the Makro lot. Once I’m done shopping and have everything loaded on my back, I then have to walk back to the highway with my load and wait in the sun for the taxi. Finally, when I’m dropped off at Soi 41, there is still the half mile to carry the groceries.

My other options are the Tesco store at the Market Village, which requires less walking, or, for fresh foods only, the fresh food market on Soi 70. However, going to the fresh market still requires a trip to one of the other two, so I don’t shop at the fresh market, even though it is probably the most fun of the three.

Both Tesco and Makra have fresh meats, seafood, vegetables and fruit (which I don’t buy because it’s too heavy to carry). But the variety is greater at Makro, there is far more room to shop (warehouse), fewer shoppers, and the prices may be a bit lower.

Two months ago on one of my first visits to Makro, I found a selection of microwave popcorn. As this is a budget “extravagance,” I weighed buying a 3-pack of the extra butter option, but it didn’t weigh much so I paid the price.

The popcorn turned out to be an excellent snacker and when I went back to Makro on my next shopping trip, I looked to replenish. Now, the previous trip, there was a large assortment of popcorn taking up significant shelf space. My assumption was that the store continually stocked popcorn.

Wrong! And I should have learned this from my travels, that what you see in the store one day may not be there the next, or even weeks or months later. There was no popcorn on display at Makro on any of my subsequent trips to the store. What one day had significant shelf space no longer was being sold, at least for the time being.

This applies almost exclusively to imported items. The store gets a supply of something, puts it up for sale, sells the product out, and then fails to restock the product.

You would think that would have been enough of a lesson, but two weeks ago in Makro I noticed they had a two-burner electric stove for about $40. This is not something I’ve seen here and would be the perfect replacement to the BBQ grill I’m currently using to cook everything from bacon, to meats, to potatoes, to spaghetti sauce.

stoveI lifted up the grill on the shelf. It was heavy and I knew I would already have a heavy lift going back. The hot sun on that last half-mile walk with all the groceries on my back also weighed in. I told myself “next time.”

Next time came this week. You will probably not be surprised to learn the store had no more of the stoves. Zero. Zippo. They sold however many they had and did not replace. At some point in time, the product may show up again, and if I’m lucky enough to be shopping before they sell out again I will deal with the difficulty of getting it back home.

I’m not sure how supply chains work on imported goods overseas but it sure is not like the U.S., where you can be mostly assured that a product you see on the shelves this week will be there next week. But I have experienced this is in several countries, including Costa Rica, Indonesia and now Thailand.

With all that experience, you would think I would have learned my lesson and bought that stove when I had a chance. Everything screamed that it would be a one-off for the store, although you would think that if they sell something so easily the stores would make an effort to resupply in a timely fashion.

After all, they all seem to be able to maintain their supplies of Snickers and M&Ms.


About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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