Living in a country the size of a semicolon for the last five years got me used to having a limited selection of consumer goods. Denmark isn’t a market that manufacturers fight over or pursue aggressively, and it’s normal to find just two or three kinds of toothpaste, shampoo or shaving cream, no matter how many stores you go to.
This never really bugged me, actually. My default setting when confronted with consumer-aimed competitive features (‘The new Mach 7 shaving razor, now with BlueTooth!’) is to roll my eyes and look for the Acme version, which is basically all Denmark offers anyway.
I mean, how much does your toothpaste really matter? Even if you make a disastrous choice (what the fuck is ‘spearmint’ exactly?), it’s not going to significantly affect your well-being, even in the short-term.
That’s what I was thinking this as I walked into Berlin’s biggest bike store yesterday morning. After spending two hours there, I concluded that I’m utterly full of shit.
Stadler Berlin has 30,000 bikes, but the real attraction is the accessories. There are miles of bike locks, acres of bike clothes and a symphony of pedestrian-parting dingers and honkers. Before I even got past the foyer, I wanted to shout ‘give me one of everything!’
After intense consultations with the staff, I left with a bike that actually fits my Keebler Elf-sized frame, a basket that will actually hold a bag of groceries and a lock that may actually prevent a theft, rather than just serving as mobile jewelry.
Despite my remaining skepticism, I think I could get used to living in a consumer paradise. As I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that my toothpaste tastes like shit, and I’m almost out of shaving cream.