UK department store John Lewis recently announced it would soon launch versions of its Website for shoppers in 27 countries, including the USA, Australia, and Singapore. The company has no plans to open stores in these locations, however; all orders will be delivered by courier.
Marks and Spencer, another institution of the British High Street, already ships to 80 countries worldwide, even though it has over 300 international stores scattered around the globe.
It seems both John Lewis and M&S understand something that all expats know — there are certain items you only feel comfortable buying from home.
Marks & Spencer, for example, accounts for around thirty percent of the UK lingerie market; it’s not unreasonable to assume that displaced Brits with diminishing lingerie supplies and no access to M&S stores make up a goodly proportion of the international shipping numbers. Meanwhile, John Lewis has the most popular gift list in the UK. How about some Conran bed linen or Denby pottery to make your relations feel at home in their Moscow abode? Sometimes only the familiar will do.
It’s not all about the goods, either. Expat in Germany, in her March 17 post, explained why she hesitated to buy a wedding dress in Germany instead of in her native Canada. It had nothing to do with the quality of wedding gowns and everything to do with the charming honesty of German sales assistants that made her pine for a gentler shopping experience at home.
But these facts and anecdotes made us wonder: No matter how displaced you have become, are there certain items — other than food — that you still prefer to import from your home country?
Two members of the Displaced Nation Team kick off the discussion:
Kate Allison: During my 15 years as a Brit in the US, I have been known to ask visitors to bring gifts of children’s cotton pyjamas. The cotton in the UK is much nicer, somehow, than in the US. I also had a brief sojourn into Next duvet covers, because duvets aren’t as popular in the US as they are in Europe. Last time I was over, though, it was shoes that caught my eye. And yes, they came from Marks and Spencer. It’s not that they were any better than their American counterparts — just different, and not from Macy’s.
ML Awanohara: As far as wedding (and other special) dresses go, the more exotic the better. I was never an expat in Rome but went shopping for my wedding dress a few years back in a charming boutique, Maga Morgana, very near the Piazza Navona. (If I had it to do over, I’d have studied abroad in Italy — art history, of course. So perhaps I was playing out that fantasy…) Kate, it’s funny you mention shoes. While living in the UK and Japan, I always preferred to buy shoes in the US. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the shoes in those countries — I coveted them. But they made my feet hurt, something to do with the “last” not being big enough. I noticed recently on an expat news feed that displaced New Zealanders often head to a shop called Minnie Cooper’s as soon as they get home. This piqued my curiosity: is it for the styles, the NZ leather, or both?
Your turn to chime in: What homey items, apart from food, have you yet to wean yourself off?
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