The Baqaalah: Around the Town in Sana’a

I like to shop in the major western supermarkets, but there are many benefits of shopping at a baqaalah—neighborhood grocery store. 

Baqaaluun (plural) are abundant here. On any given street, there may be several. When I walk out of my building there are at least 5 in the near vicinity. 

Although prices in the baqaalah (especially ones in neighborhoods off the beaten path–or shall I say paved path) may be a little more expensive (10-100 riyals for example), there are many conveniences to shopping at them.

What’s a baqaalah like?

The baqaaluun typically range in size from that of a small bedroom to that of a small convenience store.  Some have a counter prohibiting entry into the store (so the grocer has to get your items); some give you free reign to walk around and select your groceries.

The majority of the smaller baqaaluun basically all look alike with shelves of goods along the wall. The larger stores may have aisles.

What do they carry?

Don’t be fooled by the small stores; they can really pack in more than you might think.  If I had to shop exclusively in my neighborhood, I could probably get 90% of what I want/need. You can find canned goods, beverages, (sometimes in refrigerated cases), cleaning supplies, small household/kitchen goods, sometimes a freezer of frozen foods, beauty and hygiene products, plastic goods, etc.


Why shop there instead of with the “big guys?”

1. Convenience

As I mentioned earlier, they are everywhere, so you don’t have to go far or even take a taxi to get there.  You can send your older children that speak Arabic to pick up things for you.  If you purchase large or a lot of items, some stores may have a wheelbarrow to carry your items home in.

2. Flexibility

Ever need just one or two eggs for a recipe but didn’t want to purchase a whole dozen?  In many stores, you can get just one or two eggs instead of buying a dozen (or a flat of 30 which is how they come, instead of in dozens).

You can buy just one diaper or how ever many you may need if you can’t afford a whole pack at the time. 

You can buy 1 piece of bread and one triangle of cheese for a quick, light lunch. 

Get to Know your Grocer

If you build up a repoire with your local grocer, you may be able to sajjil (buy things on a tab) if you don’t have the money.  Just be sure to get a written receipt (faturah) when you pay it back and keep track closely of what you are getting and the total.

Typically smaller stores will not give you a receipt (faturah). If you shop there enough, it may be easy to take back things that are damaged.

If you frequently shop at a baqaalah, they may give you special deals, discounts, and maybe even freebies.






Sale at Shumaila Hari

Shumaila Hari is having a Ramadan sale from Ramadan 15 to Shawwal 15.

I don’t see the new sales circular online, but I have seen them circulating around our neighborhood.