Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

Carrefour- the nation of tiny shops builds a hypermart

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Most people in the US have never heard of Carrefour; but it is after Wal-Mart the biggest retailer in the world, and it was started in France.

The one in Antibes stretched my imagination.

I’d been in France for two weeks or so; I’d seen innumerable small shops, bakeries, restaurants.  The biggest store I’d been to was the grocery store, which is tiny by American standards.  I thought that was just how France was.

Enter Carrefeour- a big box store twice the size of a super-Walmart, with 70 checkout aisles and just about every sort of product imaginable-food, clothes, books, computers, furniture, appliances, dirt bikes and motorscooters, and most importantly the most wine I’ve ever seen in one place.  If this way of shopping isn’t classy enough, it’s surrounded by a mall.

I was baffled by how the French could build something so out of keeping with what seems to be their national character; I guess when a nation takes something to an extreme it will inevitably provoke a reaction, and in this case the reaction looks like Carrefour.

I can’t think of any contrasts quite so sharp in the states; perhaps because regionalism and federalism allow for more diversity.  Looking for them though…

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Written by James Bailey

October 3, 2007 at 10:39 am

Posted in La Belle France

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