supermarket [noun] [de supermarkt, de supermarkten]

The concept of a “supermarket” became popular in the Netherlands in the 60s. The introduction of the supermarket was a bit of a revolution as it differed very much from the traditional “kruidenier” (follow the link for a picture); small local shops named after the (often) male owner (the word “kruid” translates to “herb”).

Some people still prefer the smaller specialty shops, that often have products of better quality. Of course you pay more ๐Ÿ™‚

In the Netherlands quite a few chains of supermarkets exist ranging in price and presentation (some would argue that service is absent in all of them, but you can get free coffee at Albert Heijn ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Well known are Albert Heijn, C1000 and Jumbo, but there are many more (the smaller ones sometimes changing names in different regions of the country). The sizes of Dutch supermarkets are still modest compared to other countries, but Albert Heijn is making an effort with their XL concept.

Although some expats still complain about the limited opening hours of Dutch supermarkets, there used to be a time when they all closed at 6 p.m. (only in the last decade this has changed bit by bit). We would definitely have starved if that would still be the case now ๐Ÿ˜‰

– “Tot hoe laat is de supermarkt open?”
(“Until what time is the supermarket open?”)

– “Mag ik u wat vragen? Weet u een supermarkt in de buurt?”
(“Can I ask you something? Do you know of a supermarkt nearby?” Literally: “… in this neighbourhood?”)

– “Sorry, maar ze hadden geen tandpasta meer in de supermarkt.”
(“I’m sorry, but they ran out of toothpaste in the supermarket.” Literally: “they had no more toothpaste”.)

– “Voor verse groenten ga ik liever naar de groenteboer dan naar de supermarkt.”
(“For fresh vegetables I’d rather go to the greengrocery than to the supermarket.”)

Related words:
– “Markt”: market. In Dutch towns the word “Markt” is often part of names of squares or streets, such as “Grote Markt” (“big market”) or “Vismarkt” (“fish market”).
– “Boodschappen doen”: to do/buy groceries. The word “boodschap” translates to “message”.

This video was first linked in DWOTD 3. Zakje, but is of course also applicable here. Check out this British comedian joking about Albert Heijn and the way Dutch people buy their fruit and vegetables…

6 thoughts on “Supermarkt

  1. The video on Albert Heijn is a bit outdated as it is no longer common for customers to weigh and price the fruit and vegetables (at least not in the “Randstad”). I guess people were a little bit too enthusiastic with filling up their “zakjes”. Another reason is that many people simply forgot to weigh their goods, which led to queues at the “kassa’s”. However you can still cheat by lying to the “kassameisje” about the kind of apples that you selected ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Our local C1000 still does it. I noticed my last visit to AH that it was no longer the procedure. Since it took me about six months to get into the habit, I’m unhappy about the change.

  3. The closest supermarket to my last U.S. residence was only open from 7:00 to 23:00 Monday through Saturday (8:00 to 21:00 on Sunday). Some mornings I would forget, and then have to drive another quarter mile to the next closest supermarket, which was 24 hours (they did close from 23:00 Sunday until 6:00 Monday). Life was difficult.

  4. I was very surprised when learning Dutch to find that ‘boodschappen doen’ meant to go shopping. As a Scot, now living in England, our informal word for shopping was ‘messages’ and as a child my mother would often ask me to fetch some messages for her. The expression is still widely used in Scotland. Do you have any inkling of how the expression came into our languages?

  5. Hi Alen,
    In Dutch, “boodschappen doen” is used for grocery shopping, and indeed “boodschap” translates to “message”.
    I tried to find out why this is the case, but I failed…
    To be honest I never realized the oddity of the use of “boodschap”/”message” for this purpose and find it very interesting to hear of this similar usage in Scotland.
    I invite other readers to shine their light on this matter…

  6. This would be only an educated (or not) guess, but perhaps Dutch practical side shone through in the expression ‘boodschappen doen’ and is connected to the word ‘boodschap’ through some logical link to shopping lists? ๐Ÿ™‚

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