One of the great ways to see a place is at markets. They can be supermarkets, little corner convenience stores, street markets, farmers markets…Whatever they are you will get a feel for the place. You will see people interacting and get a chance to do so yourself.
I love going to markets when I travel. They give you a great sense of how people live and what they find important, interesting, and fun.
In China there is a wider variety of places to procure things than I am used to.
In China they go to supermarkets way less than we do in the US. One thing that struck me was how much less busy a Walmart in China is than ones I’ve been to in the US. They have supermarkets, often inside of malls that have a wide variety of other shops as well. Very few malls in the US have supermarkets in them.
Compared with stores stateside Chinese supermarkets carry fewer packaged foods, and have a wider variety of foods.
Note the large selection of oils and vinegars against the wall.
Wide variety of eggs.
Fruits I rarely see at home, and can’t afford if I happen to find them.
They even have my grandma’s favorite!
Not a single prepackaged item…how often do you see this at home?
Chinese version of a rotisserie chicken.
An entire section of soy sauces.
The reason that Chinese people use supermarkets less is that they have street markets where they can buy what they need either close to home or while they are out doing other things.
Street markets have many things that you can buy elsewhere:
Dishes,plates, cooking utensils.
Tea, in this case “flower tea”.
Decor and calligraphy supplies.
And some things you can’t buy elsewhere:
In many places there are indoor markets. These are quite large (people drive scooters and other smallish vehicles in them) and contain a variety of stalls and small shops carrying everything you can imagine. Below is a sample from the market in Shouguang, for more see my post: Shouguang Market.
Clothing and linens.
Big enough that people drive in it.
Mini-marts or Convenience Stores
It is necessary when talking about marketing in China to give some space to the convenience stores that are all over. They carry almost anything you can imagine and some you wouldn’t think of, jammed into tiny shops. There seems to be one within walking distance of almost anywhere. Things cost a bit more but its worth something to not have to go farther and haul back home a four liter bottle of water.