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Shopping in Italy
Shopping in Italy is fun whether you are going for groceries or clothing. Perhaps it is because we are not residents (yet) and that it is so different from malls or supermarkets in the United States.
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In fact, it’s funny as Gary works at a big “box store” here in Arizona. He is a Master Club Builder and works for PGA Tour Superstore. He tells stories every now and then about Europeans walking into the store and just stopping right inside the front door; stunned. They stop and look around and just marvel at the inventory, the layout, and size of the store.
We take for granted here in the US about our shopping. The convenience and the variety of items that can be purchased in one place.
What You Should Know Ahead of Time
What you must remember is to bring your own shopping bags. If you do not bring your own, you are charged about $.12€ per bag. If you are staying for a while, it really ads up! Sometimes, you might even come across a charge to use the shopping cart. I think there was only one store that we have come across that did this but we managed to carry everything we needed.
In Parma, we were shopping a lot in Conad as it was the closest to our apartment. What we found fascinating is that they actually indicate on a sign where the produce originated from. Some signs indicated Spain, Portugal, and signs even indicated if it came from Sicily!
There is also a “procedure” for purchasing produce. You are required (or you can get “the look”) to put on plastic gloves before touching anything. You need to remember the number that is associated with the item you are purchasing and when you bring it to the scale, you weight it and enter the number for the produce. Then, put the printed label on the bag. Waala, done!
Also different is that most cashiers sit when checking out your groceries. I have never seen that in the United States!
Here are some store names that might help you in your everyday shopping in Europe but particularly Italy. There are many smaller stores, mom, and pop we call them here in the United States but these are the larger ones you might come across.
- Auchan: French-owned hypermarket with branches throughout Italy.
- Bennet: Supermarket chain based in northern Italy
- Billa: 67 stores in Italy with a wide selection of products including its own bakery section.
- Carrefour: Supermarket chain with prepared foods, fresh meat and cheese produce.
- Conad: Large supermarket chain which offers its own range of organic items: pasta, jams, oil, honey, rice, coffee, etc., as well as non-organic things. This store is also French-owned.
- Coop: A consumer’s cooperative and the largest supermarket chain in Italy.
- Esselunga: Supermarket chain with self-produced organic products and online shopping.
- Famila: Superstores around Italy
- INs Mercato: Supermarket with its own brands
- LD Market: Market with food and homewares.
- Lidl: Discount supermarket chain for household goods and foodstuffs including frozen foods, alcohol, bread and a limited range of fresh fruit and vegetables. Many economy brands in stock.
- MD Discount: Discount stores with branches throughout Italy
- Metro: Cash and carry for cardholders, food products and supplies for restaurateurs, hoteliers, retailers, food retailers and other large consumers.
- Pam: Superstores with a wide variety of fresh products
- Penny Market: Supermarket with its own brands and regional products
- SMA: A division of Auchan supermarkets, this nation-wide chain offers own-branded items Sma Auchanas well as fruit and vegetables, meat, bread, and confectionery.
- Eurospin: The largest discount supermarket chain in Italy. Products sold include textiles, frozen goods, fruit and vegetables, alcohol, bread and ready meals.
- Crai: Large chain of Italian supermarkets offering own-brand items as well as more well-known brand names, organic goods.
- Sisa: Chain of supermarkets including Iperissa, Sisasuperstore, Sisa, Issimo and Negozio Italia. Offers the Sisa fidelity card which entitles clients to in-store discounts.
Furniture and Appliance Shops:
- IKEA: The largest chain of furniture shops in the world. For indoor and outdoor furniture, sofas, dining tables and chairs, bookshelves, futons, kitchens, and storage containers
- TRONY: White goods and home appliances including televisions, DVD players, PCs, fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, and accessories for cars and motorbikes
- Euronics: Electrical equipment specialists. For televisions, DVD players, PCs, air conditioning units, cameras, and mobile phones
- COBRA: Large chain selling consumer electronic goods including audio and video accessories, Mp3 players, CD players, amplified loudspeakers, home theatre systems, and clock radios
- UNIEURO: For digital cameras, games and entertainment systems, domestic appliances, and HI-FIs
Building Material, Hardware, and DIY:
- Brico Center: home improvement specialists for marquees, awnings, lighting, wallpaper, home and garden accessories, bathroom equipment, mechanical and plumbing instruments
- Brico IO: Italian home improvement chain for hobby equipment, wood, household and garden tools, paints and varnishes and lighting. Branches nationwide
- Leroy Merlin: Large hardware superstore chain with branches all over Italy. For tools, electrical equipment, paint, wood, plumbing supplies, bathrooms, kitchens, building equipment and lighting.
Office Supplies and Stationery:
- Metro Italia: For discount office supplies including office furniture, stationery, box-files, desktop and laptop computers, paper shredders and printers
- Avery Italia: Printing specialists with an online order service. Products include labels, CDs, software, printers and printer paper
- Buffetti: Office equipment specialists with many franchises all over Italy. For office furniture, stationery, computer accessories and meeting equipment
This information should help anyone headed to Italy. We love and follow Italy Magazine and found an article of interest.
Editors Note: This post was originally published on December 1, 2015, and has been updated for accuracy.
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