Nutmeg is here to tell you that Big-Box shopping is the same nightmare in France, as it is in Palm Springs, Chicago, Airdrie and Scarborough.
Big-box retail (think Target and Walmart) has evolved as a cost effective development strategy, under the guise of offering consumer convenience. Without boring you all with the details, this concept works well for the landlord and tenant as no party is too “invested” in the location. The big-box retail model has evolved from “destination” single stores, into power-centres where the customer can spend an entire day cruising hundreds of outlet stores.
Consumers like this model; easy access by car, lots of free parking and the sense (possibly false) that the pricing is favourable.
The environmental impact of these big-box centres is enormous, with acres of asphalt, thousands of car trips, and tons of mass-produced consumer goods shipped from all over the globe.
So what does this have to do with lovely Provence?
Nutmeg would like to share that the colour of her hair is maintained by regularly scheduled visits to a professional. She would also like to share the following email that she sent to some girlfriends:
My bangs were down to my knees and the grey was clearly showing through. A pony tail was the only solution available. I had looked at every salon in Aix, from the outside with the following conclusions: too old, too young, too “noir”, too much like Top Cuts. Finally, this morning I stumbled across Le Salon – the name leaves nothing to the imagination, but the result, perfect. I can now see and go out in public without a ponytail. All good! I hope you ladies are all well. The coiffeuse was lovely, so I am booked for six weeks out. Success!!
What is the connection?
It is hot, with temperatures hovering around 34C. Their trusty car is in need of service. A garage appointment is scheduled, and everything should be ready that evening. However, that was not to be the case, the tires needed replacing and were not in stock. Sans souci madamme, everything would be finished first thing in the morning. The next morning ticks by with regular updates from the mechanic who cannot understand why the Michelin tires, manufactured in France, have not arrived.
In the end, Ginger and Nutmeg borrowed an old VW cabriolet from a friend so Nutmeg could make her critically important appointment in Aix (see above).
What a day!
Top-down cruising into Aix on a hot, sunny day. Everything worked out fine, hair cuts and even a gelato for Ginger. The duo just needed to get back to Avignon by 18:00 to pick up their car. However, at 17:40, just moments away from the garage, the little trusty car said, “I am too hot” and stalled. Ginger was pretty sure that the garage was around the corner so he asked Nutmeg to walk over and pick up “big-blue”.
Back to Nutmeg’s rant…
30C, sandals and the garage is at least 1000 meters (that is ONE kilometer) away. The problem with big-box retail is it is made for people in cars, not on foot. There are no sidewalks, the signage is nearly impossible to see unless you are on the highway, and acres of asphalt are punishing in the heat. In the end, Ginger picked up the car, and Nutmeg made it as far as McDonalds and ordered an ice-cold mocha.