Tag Archives: Import Shops

A Bit of Russia, Poland, Korea, and America in Changzhou

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In America, Spam is a bargain basement canned hog meat that only extremely poor people eat. The thought of eating it is so unpalatable the word got borrowed by computer programmers for junk email, pointless texts, and useless forum messages posts. Why? Both those and the real Spam were essentially unwanted items.

Think of it this way. If you gave a girl a bouquet of roses and a gift basket of Spam on Valentines Day, she would sniff the flowers and blush. Then, she would look at the Spam tins and become confused. Then, she would like become angry at start throwing the metal cans at your face and head — all while screaming “I hate you! Please die!” She would have rather had gourmet Belgian chocolates and not American mystery meat.

However, opinions about Spam are not the same outside the USA. If you such a gift to a South Korean, they would be touched and honored. They would not try to bludgeon you to death with said Spam tins. Why? Spam is a common holiday gift South Korea. South Koreans love this pork product more passionately than Americans. This mystery meat has a special history in this country. Quick synopsis: it has everything to do with the Korean War. The American military supported the south. As part of that cultural exchange, the US was introduced to taekwondo. South Korea was introduced to Spam. So much so, local housekeepers on American military installations would try to steal it when sneaking around pantries.

Two paragraphs into this blog post, and somebody might say, “Interesting. Really. But what does this have to do with Changzhou?” I found a place that actually sells Spam.

 

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This is obviously being imported with a Korean sense of mind, not an American one. The fonts on the labels are in both English and Korean. This was not one of the only “Scarce in Changzhou” thing I saw here. There was also …

 

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Green apple flavored yogurt from Poland. This is only the second place I have seen this brand. The other location wasn’t that far away, and it was in a small shop part of Xinbei Wanda Plaza.  And honestly, this shop was the only place I have ever seen…

 

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Russian chocolate. A very famous brand, I was told. And that was by an Eastern European who was not Russian.

So, where is this place? Please allow me to be circular and repost the first photo, again.

 

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This is in Xinbei. Behind Wanda Plaza, and to the west. There is Chaohu Road that separates Wanda from the other shopping center across the street. If you follow that for like two minutes, you will see this shop. It has no English name. But, at least, you see the word “Import” in English.

Three Things at Emall Worldwide

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Emall Worldwide is an imported goods shop near the old Parksons complex on Beidajie Road. Honestly, it carries a lot of the same goods other import shops carry, but here are three products that make the place unique.

It carries cans of chickpeas and jars of beet root. Chickpeas are not always on the foreign goods shelves in many of the large, international supermarkets in Changzhou. If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, it can be a staple food. I know it was for me during the many years I didn’t eat meat. Carrefour used to carry them, but all three of their locations shut down over the last year. I do see them at Auchan at times. The jarred beets are more of a unique find. The only other place in Changzhou — that I know of — is Metro.

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As for the third thing, I’m not sure having it in Changzhou is a good thing. Four Loko is one of the nastiest alcoholic drinks America has ever produced. It’s an alcopop — well, sort of. For those who have never heard this word before, it’s a recent coinage for a soft drink or soda that has alcohol in it. For example, Jack Daniel’s makes a premixed whiskey and cola. As for Four Loko, it’s like somebody noticed how many people like to mix Red Bull or Monster with vodka. So? They created a highly caffeinated energy drink that punches you in the face with 12% alcohol. It tastes absolutely disgusting. Even worse, it has actually killed a few people, and it became highly controversial in America. There were even lawmakers and protesters trying to get Four Loko banned. It faced a few lawsuits as well. Eventually, Phusion, the company producing the drink, agreed to stop making it. So, I don’t know what is sitting on Emall’s shelves. Is it leftovers from 2014? Is it being produced only for export to countries that don’t know any better? Is it a new beverage concocted under a different, less dangerous recipe? Honestly, I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m never going to buy it. I’m writing this more as a buyer beware.

America produces so many good beers and hard drinks. It’s a shame that Samuel Adams and other craft beers are not widely imported here. It reminds me of when I moved to Changzhou and went grocery shopping for the first time. I saw retail endcaps celebrating cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and started laughing hysterically. Many Americans hate that cheap, bargain-basement swill, but in China its exotic. Go figure.

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Way To Delicious 味和氏

The store near Changzhou’s Dinosaur Park

“If you can’t find it at Metro, you probably will not find it in Changzhou.”

I used to say these words all the time, but lately I realized how fundamentally I was wrong. On the surface, it seems logical and plausible. Some supermarkets carry items that others do not. For example, I routinely can’t find German pickled red cabbage at Metro, but it’s on the import shelf at the Xinbei Wanda Walmart. Metro basically has most of what a westerner may want an need, but often items show up in other places all the time. Yet, that superstore is only convenient if you live in Xinbei or near the nothern end of Changzhou. Wujin is set to get its own sometime this year, and that will be in the Coco City shopping center near Injoy Mall. Coco City is still under construction.

Snapple!

I recently discovered this at a small import shop / supermarket called Way To Delicious 味和氏. This is likely a chain, as Baidu maps lists several locations when you search using the Chinese name. I have only been to three. There used to be a small one in Hutang, right across the street from Tesco. However, it closed. The two others I have visited were in Xinbei. One is near Changfa Plaza and the Xinbei TV Tower and media center.  The other was closer to Indian Kitchen and Dinosaur Park.

The one thing, however, is that they don’t seem to carry the same products. For example, I found Polish plum juice at one, but no Snapple. The other had Snapple, but none of the Polish beverages. The unpredictable nature of the stocking means, well, you don’t make special trips to them. You just go there because you live or work near one, and its convenient. So, what am I judging Metro on, here? The Polish plum juice.  I know because I check the last time I went to Metro. And by the way, Way To Delicious may be out of plum juice. I bought all five last time I was there.

Tarczyn. The Polish equivalent of Snapple?