03 March, 2018

Convenience stores: cultural differences

I did drive past at least one convenience store/service station, and have
a photo to prove it. Actually I think these sorts of combos are increasingly
common, at least in Brisbane I think I saw quite a few.
I need some help from you today. Convenience stores are very common in Japan. There are more than 50,000 of them, check out this article to bone up on the Japanese convenient store and their long list of services. They are so common that you can count on finding one within a short walk in urban areas. When travelling around the countryside we count on being able to fairly easily find one for lunch between campsites!
Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with my language exchange friends and they asked about convenience stores in Australia.

The difficulty is that not only are common in Japan, they provide many services beyond a quick place to grab a meal. It really is difficult to think of what they might compare to in Australia. Possibly service stations come the closest, though the range of food and services that your average Japanese convenience stores offer far exceeds the average Australian service station.

I had to admit to my friends that in the 15 days I spent in Australia I never once set foot in a convenience store, I can't actually remember the last time I went to an Australian convenience store. In fact I'm not even sure where the closest one was to where I was living. That was inconceivable to one of my Japanese friends who hasn't been to Australia for more than 20 years. 

One day in Brisbane I was on foot and looking for a place to have a mid-afternoon snack and had to think about where I might find something like that outside the large shopping centre in our neighbourhood. I ended up at a service station and bought a Magnum (on our list as a "missed food" from Australia, and one that can't be mailed!).

So here are my questions for you:
  • Do you know where your closest convenience store is?
  • Do you ever go to convenience stores?
  • What would you buy at a convenience store (in Australia, or wherever you are outside of Japan)?
  • If you're away from home and need to buy a small snack or "something to keep you going", where would you go to buy it?


Ken Rolph said...

After reading this I drove around with my eyes open for a few days. The only things I can find which might be called convenience stores are attached to petrol stations. Mostly they just have basic bread and milk, with lollies and soft drinks and maybe a hot pie. They only thing that defines them as convenience is that they are open most hours. We no longer seem to have the small general stores and milk bars that used to be around the suburbs. Everything seems to have moved into shopping malls.

Wendy said...

Thanks for the research Ken. I think a key word here is "drove". Australians drive almost everywhere, so there is no need to have a close-by corner store that you can just walk to. I'm interested that you've used the word "malls" here, I thought that's a more American usage than Australian.

Ken Rolph said...

All true. But we are allowed to use any words we want. And when typing on the inter web you can't just write normal. You don't know who is reading. So it's best to write in-ter-nash-nul.
Shopping mall always reminds me to the Newcastle Song by Bob Hudson (1975). It tells the story of a group of young men cruising central Newcastle in their car looking for young women. There's a line which says "It is called Hunter Street for reasons which will become obvious later in the song". I once heard Bob Hudson do a live version where he slipped in the phrase "shopping mall" instead of Hunter Street. And then sang, "It's called a maul for reasons which will become obvious later in the song".
That's probably why I usually say shopping centre.