Trip to “paper” store – not your usual trip to Staples. They call them “paper” stores here.
Yesterday we went with Marda the S&I office secretary to get a few supplies – we needed a printer cartridge and a few other items. It was an unusual experience to say the least. So glad we were with a native Congolese. She showed us the ropes.
It felt like we were buying illegal lottery tickets or something. We went to two shops looking for the cartridge – they were within a few blocks of each other. One was off the Boulevard and we would never go there by ourselves – too much street activity and roaming “vendors.” Both shops were set up the same. Small shop – perhaps 10 – 12 feet wide – not much deeper. Displays hung on the walls – most items behind glass – all for display not for purchasing – e.g. plastic pouches hung with thumb tacks, scissors in a glass covered shallow cabinet – I think you can see the displays in the picture. We needed some binders for each of the five stakes with whic
h we are starting. There were several types hanging on the wall with handwritten tags with the price.
If you wanted something a clerk, sitting at a table in the middle of the store, started a hand written “tab” – one of those receipt books that you saw before the day of the computer. You pointed to the item, told him the quantity. Once our purchases were listed we went up to a barred window – think tight security bank – and presented our “receipt. The picture of the “pay window” is blurry but I think you can get an idea of how it was. They pulled the items, bagged them and took your money. Then they stamped your receipt “paid.”
The prices were not unreasonable – perhaps double the US – HP color cartridge for $30.00. They just did not have a lot of selection. A side note – they do not use three ring binders. They use two ring binders. I couldn’t figure out why the paper punches on display only had two punches. Then we went looking for the binders and figured it out. Another side note – printer paper is a little different – it is called a 4A (210 X 297mm) on my printer selection and is about 1/2 inch longer.