Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Housewares Purchases, Peruvian Style

One of the things that I love about traveling is to observe how the everyday workings of my own country are translated in another culture. Certain things are the same or very similar. A bottle of water is no problem although they will ask you if you want it with or without gas. Such decisions. But some things don't "translate" as well as others.

Take buying a toaster oven for example. And I pick that particular item because that is one of the things that we did this morning....besides perhaps buying some super soft lucious baby alpaca yarn.

But I digress.

If I want to buy a toaster oven to replace the toaster oven that I do not currently own, I would go to Walmart or Best Buy or Target. I would grab a cart and wander over to the appropriate department, peruse the different varieties of toaster oven, make my decision, grab the appropriate box, put it in my cart and get in line to pay. Easy breezy toaster peesy.

Not so in Peru.

First we had to get in the car and have Ruperto the Awesome (Houseman, cook, cleaner, chauffer) drive us over to the Electronics/Household Items/Clocks/Everything that you might need store. Just the thought of having to maneuver in Miraflores traffic makes me want to change my undies about ten times, and I am not even driving. Remember, rules of the road are optional in Peru. If there is a space and you think you can do it....MELD IN! Stop at a stop sign? Don't be ridiculous!

Then Ruperto has to park the car in a spot in the parking garage, and do a masterful job at it. We are stopped. We are out. We are in the store. That isn't any more different than usual.

The first thing that we see is toaster ovens!

My there are A LOT of different kinds of toaster ovens. All shapes and sizes. And that is where things change. There are no carts to wander around the store with. And even if there was a cart for me to reassuringly hide behind....there are no boxes filled with household goods to buy. Oh there are electronics and household goods on display, all with pricetags and specifications. But it is only the "floor models" that you are looking at. To actually purchase something is a multiple stage process. So, MiL and I stand and talk and think and open toaster oven doors and think about the bread that is going to be toasted. And she makes her decision.

Step one is done.

Step two is.....

Watch the nun checking out the coffee at the free coffee bar. She had two cups and seemed to be enjoying herself to no end.

Step three.....

Go over to the actual counter and tell the clerk that you want to purchase a toaster oven. He runs over to look at the toaster oven to make sure that it is clear which one that you want, there are so many. Everything is entered into the computer, including, for some reason that I do not understand, your Peruvian ID number, a receipt is handed to you and you move off to step four.

Step Four.....

You stop at the next little kiosk and actually pay for the item that you have picked out but not yet actually requested. Hand over the plastic, no problems, no worries, no installment plan. Your first receipt is now stapled to the duplicate second receipt and stamped with RED ink which somehow must make it official and you are on to step five.

Step Five.......

You hand your first receipt, which is stapled to the second receipt, to the man behind the counter. He looks everything over carefully, he stamps both copies of receipt number 2 with BLACK ink this time which must mean it is yours until death, he goes into the Sanctum Sanctorum of electronics and household items, carrying one copy of the second receipt with him.........

And finally he comes back with your toaster oven box all contained in a large shopping bag, ready for you to take it home and make something delicious. He would have taken the bag all the way out to the car if we had needed him to.

I am SO thinking that the five step process to purchase a toaster oven would not go over all that well at Best Buy.

But I might be picky.

We had to buy some of this to get over the experience.......





  1. What an interesting process! It would certainly make me think twice about whether I really needed the item or just wanted it, and would do away with impulse buys. I'd love to see Grocery Purchases, Peruvian Style (and maybe more lovely alpaca yarn)!

  2. Do you remember the store Service Merchandise? It was in the Midwest and was fashioned quite like that Peruvian store. you wandered around the floor and found the didsplay items you wanted, brought the ticket or number to the desk and they input it, and wait, and then the items came down a moving track thingy from the great beyond. pay and go on your way. one of the first "big box" warehouse stores. they are no more.


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