British supermarkets on Ibiza

January 14th, 2009 - 11:44 am Posted in ibiza, supermarket, white island corner shop | Comments (0)

How British products, and eventually British supermarkets arrived on Ibiza.

The last few years have seen a few innovative entrepreneurs opening small British supermarkets on Ibiza, open all day every day, to cater for and expand this market. Availability is going down the road of a proper corner shop that’s open all hours – just like those fabulous ‘Pakistani run’ emporiums, that proved to be the plus side of immigration policy when we were kids back in the UK.

white island corner shop, british supermarket, ibizaThere are still some moments living here in the paradise of Ibiza when you wake up in the morning yearning for a cup of English tea, a roast with Bisto gravy, or even a Mars bar. This is, of course, completely irrational, but a ‘yearning’ is a yearning and has to be satiated. Fortunately help is at hand since the arrival of the British supermarkets on Ibiza.

Since the 1960’s bohemians and hippies have been congregating on Ibiza and finding it the perfect place to perfect the hippy lifestyle. However, the hard economics of reality also afflict hippies, so they set up their market stalls to barter with each other in order to survive and eventually profit from the gradually increasing numbers of tourists. Many of these hippies were British, as almost every nationality was represented in this burgeoning paradise for sea and sun lovers.

Although the original hippies weren’t all that interested in the sort of food they’d left behind when they fled Britain, many of those who subsequently followed in their footsteps were. These were generally older folk retiring from the UK and somewhat more set in their ways. They liked white bread rather than the local ‘pan’ and preferred British bacon (even if it came from Denmark!) for their breakfast.

british supermarket ibizaConsequently the local British bars, where these people always congregate, were implored to get in extra loaves for their regulars. After all, these bars served English food to the tourists throughout the summer. They must have the contacts. The problem was the winters…

In the summer even the Spanish supermarkets on Ibiza stocked British fare, to cater for the demand from self-catering visitors who couldn’t read the labels on the Spanish stuff. It could be found, but it wasn’t cheap. In the winter the few local British bars that were open would take up the slack as best they could. The more imaginative would organise markets at the weekends with store-holders offering all sorts – from bread and cakes, through British cuts of meat, to English CDs and nowadays DVDs.

Fortunately the cavalry have arrived, in the form of British supermarkets on Ibiza. We don’t boast 24 hour Tescos on every corner and aren’t likely to – there aren’t enough British ex-pats on Ibiza to fill even a corner of a mega-huge British Tesco store…

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