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The Price of Convenience

June 22nd, 2007

As I’ve mentioned a few times, the new building we’re moving into next week (just one week! Still, time is craaaawling by…) has a small supermarket on the 1st floor, open 24/7. It’s more than just a convenience store (in Japanese: “conbini”) as it has supermarket-style selections, including a full meat and fish section, as well as fruits & veggies, a baked goods section, and so on. But it does resemble a convenience store in the pricing.

When I went to check it previously, they were having a sale, so I couldn’t judge the prices accurately. Now that the store-wide sale is over and they just have the usual odd items on sale, like any supermarket, I figured it might be interesting to check out the differences in pricing between the new store and the supermarket I’ve been using for seven years in Inagi.

Now, you could say that it’s not a fair fight; after all, one store is way out in the boonies and has massive floor space, while the other is downtown with a small footprint. The smaller, new store (“Pororoca”) does not have the facilities to prepare the meat, bake the bread, and so on. So it has to ship it in from some other place where it’s prepared.

And it shows in the pricing. While some items were priced identically (an imported strawberry jam, a liter carton of milk, a packet of spaghetti sauce, a few different kinds of snacks) and fewer still were actually cheaper at Pororoca (carrots, for some reason, and a few other items on sale at the time), most of the items were more expensive. While a few meat products were priced the same at both places, some meats at Pororoca were priced at two or even three times the cost per 100 grams than they were set at my local Sanwa market. Fruits & veggies were more similarly priced (I guess they just get shipped in the same way wherever they go), and many other items ranged from slightly more expensive to about 50% more expensive.

So, Pororoca will be the emergency backup market–kind of like a convenience store (like the dozens of convenience stores within walking distance of the new place), but far better stocked. You can’t get materials for entrees at a convenience store unless you’re really creative. So while our main shopping will probably be at the Seiyu a few minutes away, if we’re in a rush or need something really late at night, we have a place to go get it.

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