Having my family here forced me to look on Lebanon with a fresh pair of eyes, making me realize things that I had previously overlooked. This was partly due to the fact that my Grandmother is a Grade A Shopaholic. Not so much in the traditional sense (she found Beirut Souks absolutely soulless), but in the sense that whenever she travels she loves to go into local handicraft and artisan stores to see what trades/skills the locals are best at.
Since I didn’t know where any of these stores were located, we literally had to go door to door until we found something she liked. (Near torture for me, a person who only likes to go shopping when she knows exactly what she’s looking for and exactly what store she’s going to find it in, and who absolutely adores the convenience of online shopping.)
While engaging in this selfless activity 😉 in Hamra, Mar Elias, and Verdun I realized something about the stores in these areas..They almost all sell the exact same thing! Nowhere is worse than Mar Elias though..you will walk down an entire block seeing identical stores (down to the sqm), directly adjacent to each other, and selling the exact same merchandise! This phenomenon makes for a rather frustrating shopping experience if I do say so myself, and one that I do not entirely understand. ‘Jumping on the bandwagon,’ is nothing new, and I’m well aware of that..but seeing all of these stores standing right next to each other, unabashedly selling the same things is new to me! Don’t they know they would be better of varying their merchandise or establishing an entirely new concept? I really should have questioned the store owners on why they choose this as their sales strategy, and how they differentiate themselves from their neighbor (quite literally).
But when I think about it, in a country where women rush to get the same nose jobs, men rush to get the same luxury vehicles, and everyone rushes to be seen in the same brands and at the same places..this phenomenon might just make sense.
Do you have any idea why this is so? Is this what competition has come to these days?