Vietnam grocery stores in local’s eyes - an interesting cultural adventure

Vietnam grocery stores in local’s eyes- an interesting cultural adventure

In spite of the fast growth of modern stores like convenience stores or supermarkets, traditional Vietnam grocery stores still have their own attraction to local people.

What is a Vietnam grocery store?

The traditional Vietnam grocery store is a small store that sells a variety of goods. They are mostly household business. They are everywhere on the streets, alleys or in markets. Most goods are the fast-moving consumer products, dry food, spices, household appliances, stationery and so on. This is a retail business with direct payment (mostly in cash).

Vietnam grocery stores hanoi

One of outstanding traditional Vietnam grocery stores in Hanoi – Source: loesheerink

Vietnam grocery stores features

Convenience thanks to the wide coverage

Due to the small area and family business, Vietnam grocery stores appear everywhere, even in the tiny alleys.

According to a survey conducted by Nielsen in 2017, the density of grocery stores in the city is 40,5 stores/km and 2,8 stores/km in the rural.

With a few steps from your house, you can reach a grocery store at any time. After school, the kids usually visit a grocery store to buy some snack and enjoy them on the way home. Or if you’re cooking but out of salt, don’t worry! Just 2 minutes going to the store, you can buy it right away.

Besides, you don’t have to park your vehicle, take a cart and queue in line to have a payment. It saves your time if you’re in a hurry. Just stop your bike next to the shop, don’t need to enter, and tell the clerk to get your stuff. It’s so convenient for shopping at a grocery store.

Vietnam grocery stores tan dinh market

A grocery store at Tan Dinh Market, Saigon – Source: christinas

Cheaper price than a convenience store or supermarket

With the same product, when you buy in a grocery store, it’s cheaper than in a convenience store or supermarket about 1,000 – 5,000 VND. It’s because the grocery store has a small scale and it doesn’t need much staff or equipment. Some Vietnam grocery stores are also agencies for some brands so they usually have promotions. Therefore, it helps you to save money.

The freestyle arrangement of products

A special thing in Vietnam grocery stores is its arrangement. The owner often places the products in freestyle or in the same category as milk with milk, candy with candy etc. The goods are piled up like a mountain with many colors that make it like artwork. They show them in facade so it catches your eyes whenever you come over. Therefore, you will be impressive by each grocery store’s unique design.

Some Vietnam grocery stores also have handmade products, mostly are pickled food. With fresh ingredients and family recipes, these food has featured flavors.

The close relationship with the staff and owner

Unlike in the convenient store and supermarket, the staff in the grocery store often is a relative of the owner. Sometimes, the owner is the only one person working in the store.

The staffs are very friendly and enthusiastic. They always welcome you with a smile and like to have a chat with you. Hence, every time you go shopping, it’s not only a business but also a relationship between you and the store. Gradually, you will feel familiar and comfortable with the store as well as the staff. And you will visit it regularly.

Vietnam grocery stores friendly owner

The friendly owner always welcome you with a smile – Source: SBS

Moreover, when you have a close relationship with the staff and owner, they even know your familiar products or brands. It makes you feel warm and important. In that case, they can give you priorities like a discount or present included.

Furthermore, if you forget money, you can buy stuff and pay the next time you visit. Sometimes, you can exchange or sell the products that you don’t need with a store and they can sell for customers. Because of its emotional connection and flexibility, local people like to go shopping at Vietnam grocery stores.

>> Explore more about Vietnamese culture with the Vietnamese family meal.

What about the convenience stores and supermarkets?

At present, there are more and more convenience stores and supermarkets opening. They are convenient and branding. They have more variety of goods that imported from foreign countries like Korea, Japan, Thailand, Australia etc.

Due to the development of the economy and the cultural exchange, Vietnamese people like to use foreign products with the beautiful package and high quality. Besides, the products in these stores have labels with detail information and clear price so customers can have an easier choice. With air-conditioner and the application of technologies, convenience stores or supermarkets offer you a better shopping space and more forms of payment. However, Vietnam grocery stores have always been an indispensable thing in local people’s life. It’s a cultural beauty.

Vietnam grocery stores colorful arrangement

A grocery store in Hanoi with the colorful arrangement – Source: loesheerink

Why Vietnam grocery store is a culture?

Don’t know when and how it started but Vietnam grocery stores have existed for a long long time. From from generation to generation, it’s always a familiar image in the heart of every Vietnamese people.  To explain this, you can say that grocery stores have witnessed through lots of Vietnam stages even from the poor period to the developing time.

A beautiful childhood memory

In the past, it was rare to have a supermarket. Hence, we saw a grocery store like a small world where we could have anything.

Especially for kids, this was a magical and joyful place. Every time we entered the store, it was a colorful world with many kinds of products in attractive brands and packages. We desired to buy all because everything was so appealing and new to us. However, with a little money, 500 or 1000 VND, we only bought candy or a snack. But somehow, we felt so happy like we had a present.

Or when we got a good mark at school, parents bought candy or ice-cream for us like a reward. We also used to buy presents for birthdays at the grocery stores like a notebook, pen, soap and so on. In addition, there were many childhood games sold at grocery stores. Therefore, it’s not simply a shop but it includes innocent and delightful memories of a kid.

So, it’s like when we think about the Vietnam grocery stores, it’s about happiness as a kid. It has a vintage vibe and nostalgia. Even when we grow up, the “grocery store in the corner” is still a place we visit regularly.

Vietnam grocery stores food

Some childhood food were sold at grocery stores – Source: Kenh14

A Vietnamese lifestyle

Moreover, Vietnam grocery stores are usually opened in the neighborhood so it usually has a “real Vietnam name” like the owner’s name, not for marketing or branding. Besides, it also creates a deep connection between neighbors. It’s about the communication and trust between individuals. We live in the same area, talk to each other every day, tell our stories and experience similar things in the neighborhood. It’s not only about happiness but also about arguments, sadness, and sharing.

Nowadays, Vietnam grocery stores are still favorite shops with local people. It’s everywhere, you can see it and find it anytime. It pops up in your mind first whenever you want to buy something and it has emotional values. It’s like a Vietnamese lifestyle. It brings material as well as spiritual values. Therefore, with all the above reasons, Vietnam grocery stores is a Vietnamese culture.


Vietnam grocery stores Derry Ainsworth

The serenity of a grocery store at night – Source: Derry Ainsworth

In the modern pace of life, Vietnam grocery stores offer more services to keep the customers. Many stores import foreign products to attract more customers. Some of them even have online shipping for the customers who buy large quantities. Also, they have applied technologies into the shop like bar-code scanning equipment, the management software, the social network and so on. Despite that, it still remains traditional beauties like it was. So for a cultural adventure in Vietnam, don’t miss these traditional grocery stores!