Saturday, October 2, 2010

Metro - the Sam's Club of Kazakhstan

Another Saturday in September, 2010

Sometime last year, Metro opened in Astana. When I first heard people talking about it, I thought hopefully that this meant a subway system. Nope, it's a German-run discount, bulk, need-a-card supermarket store, kind of akin to a Sam's Club or Costco.

My brother and I researched it on-line, as all good nerds do, and learned that to get a card, you need a Tax ID number (which I had) and some other business-stuff (which I didn't have). Like good nerds, we decided not to go to Metro because we couldn't get a card.

This year, I learned that this is Kazakhstan, and you don't really need that stuff to get a card there.

My Kazakh friend R. offered to take me one Saturday (it's rather far away, located more on the steppe than in the city) and so of course I agreed.

She had a card, so I never bothered to figure out if I could get one.

Metro is huge and not entirely impressive. Not as much bulk items as I would have expected, and the prices didn't seem to be much cheaper than at regular stores. It did have a larger selection than most stores I've been to. It even had looseleaf, lined-paper! Something that is virtually impossible to find here, so I bought some.

It also had a ton of spices, with ENGLISH on them, I had fun looking at all of them, and ending up buying a huge jar of the French spice Herbes de Provence, which R. and I split.

In the frozen section, I found something that I had yet to find in Kazakhstan: frozen chicken nuggets. Fish nuggets are very popular, chicken nuggets seem to be unheard of. But here they were. I bought 4 packets. They were rather small, later I came to wish I'd bought every single one that the store had. I also bought a 2.5 kg bag of frozen broccoli---broccoli is the only vegetable Sophia eats. It had the frozen pizza that I buy for her (just sauce, nothing on it--have yet to see frozen plain cheese pizza!) and in the cheese section I bought some sliced Edam cheese, which took me less than 3 days to finish.

Overall, a good shopping experience. I bought a lot. Metro isn't entirely amazing, but it has a slightly better selection of things Americans like, and prices weren't bad. But it's so far away, I just have to rely on hitching a ride with someone who's driving there.

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