Shopping

New Uniqlo store in The Hague (Or: A mini Japanese garden)

A new store has opened up where Marks & Spencer used to be – Uniqlo, a clothing store originally founded in Japan. The inside looks completely different. Where the escalator used to be there is now a set of stairs. And a mini Japanese garden…

The sign on the wall reads: “Honoring The Hague, known for being one of the greenest cities of The Netherlands, a real garden has ben recreated at the heart of the UNIQLO Grote Markstraat store. Inspired by the traditional Japanese Garden at Park Clingendael, the garden incorporates true Japanese elements such as bonsai trees and green moss, perfect for a serene setting. At UNIQLO, we are committed to maintaining the planet and producing clothing in a way that is harmonious with nature, without excessive burden on the environment. To discover more about UNIQLO’s environmental initiatives, visit the sustainability area on the 1F.”

The reason I came to Uniqlo was to see if they were selling their reusable face masks in the store. After a few weeks of wearing single use face masks I decided it was time to move on to reusable ones. Hopefully ones that fit better than the one-size-fits-all face masks I have found until now. I’ve been crossing the bands before placing them around my ears to try and get them tighter, but it isn’t perfect.

Uniqlo’s face masks are sold in small, medium and large, in the colors white, grey and black. I’ve seen a few recommendations about how comfortable they are, so hopefully I can try them out in the next day or two.

(Side note: You can see the face mask display to the left of the stairs in my photo.)

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Holiday displays (Or: Christmas time at CASA)

I’ll just leave this photo here…

CASA (a home department store) has put up their Christmas display already.

And you know what – I like it. I like it a lot.

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Leaves of yellow and green (Or: Megastores)

This morning Marco and I walked over to Megastores and a few stores in the surrounding area to do some Saturday shopping.

Megastores has always been an interesting mall. Most of the stores are furniture related, with some additional everyday stores like Hema, Blokker, Big Bazar and Xenos. They have had issues with unoccupied stores throughout the years, although we didn’t see as many this time. However in general it is the same issue American malls have: walk down the “wrong” wing and you will find yourself in a ghost town.

In other news:

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Anniversary year (Or: 150 years of Bijenkorf)

Bijenkorf is a Dutch department store which opened its first store in Amsterdam in 1870. 150 years ago! To celebrate this, they scheduled a year of celebrations in 2020 (thehagueonline.com). For example, there are unique shop windows (Bijenkorf always has beautiful holiday windows), unique merchandise to buy, guided tours, events to attend…

The only problem – which you can see coming with the date of March 10, 2020 in the article from thehagueonline.com – is the corona crisis rearing its ugly head. The carefully scheduled events and tours now read tijdelijk niet beschikbaar or temporarily not available.

In other news:

  • The Dutch corona app will be called CoronaMelder (nltimes.nl) and will use Bluetooth. CoronaMelder translates to Corona Reporter.
  • Kuikentjes bevrijd op de Oude Trambaan from regio15.nl – baby chicks fell through a pedestrian bridge and couldn’t get out on their own. They were ultimately freed by firemen who removed a few of the bridge planks to reach the chicks.
  • The Guardian has a very interesting article called ‘Landscape of fear’: what a mass of rotting reindeer carcasses taught scientists although that topic admittedly isn’t for everyone. But there’s an informative tie-in with the Dutch Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve (where thousands of animals ended up starving due to a lack of predators in the area) and the ultimate changes to the ecosystem which occurred because of the abandoned carcasses. This caused a great amount of controversy in The Netherlands because it was a conscious choice not to feed the animals to help them survive the winter.
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Modern stone (Or: Primark building in The Hague)

One of my favorite additions to The Hague in the last five years is the building that houses Primark. Primark is a budget department store which attracts customers in droves (I used to see tourists walk past holding 4 or 5 bags each). I took another photo of the building recently:

I love the color of the stone and the angles of the apartments above. And of course the blue skies definitely help.

In other news:

  • There’s a chance of a heat wave next week, with temperatures expected to be around 30C or 86F on Wednesday and Thursday. I know some of my American readers would go “Pffft! That’s nothing!” but keep in mind air conditioning is pretty rare in the Netherlands. And a lot of people are now working from home, so no office climate control for us! Time to break out the big fan.
  • The Hague forbids weekend protest festival against Covid restrictions from nltimes.nl. This was another group who wanted to protest at Malieveld. Originally there were supposed to be 100 attendees but then the organization decided to turn it into a ‘festival’ of sorts, altering speakers and DJs, so the expected attendance rose to 10,000. Considering festivals are banned at the moment, it’s no wonder that this demonstration was also banned. The decision was made by the mayor of The Hague this morning and the group then turned to the courts to get the ban overturned. The courts ruled earlier this evening that the ban could stay in place.
  • MOJO en Vodafone lanceren streamingplatform largerthan.live from vodafoneziggo.nl. MOJO (a ticket seller) and Vodafone (an internet and phone company) are together launching a streaming platform so that those with a virtual ticket can watch certain performances live from the Ziggo dome in Amsterdam. Fans can watch from their mobile devices or broadcast to the tv. They can also choose what camera angle they want. The most interesting point: at the moment the two companies say the streaming opportunities will continue even after things get back to normal. That could be interesting.
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Let’s all go to Primark (Or: Unbelievable lines)

Okay, admittedly this photo was taken last Sunday, late in the afternoon. The Hague city centre gets busy at those times, even on the best of the days. Throw in some coronavirus and you have a recipe for pedestrian congestion.

Let’s see… about 50 people that we can see waiting to get inside the local Primark (a discount clothing store), probably another 20-25 around the corner. Admittedly, it is a double line which makes it look twice even more crowded.

And here I used to joke that people were insane when they would walk around the city with four fully loaded Primark bags. It really is a discount clothing store – I think I got a shirt there for 2 and a half euros once. Oh, and a very awesome Christmas ornament that I probably don’t have a photo of. But trust me, it was cute.

But probably not worth waiting in line for with 75 others.

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The Passage in The Hague (Or: Warnings about keeping your distance)

Last week Marco and I went through The Passage, which serves as both a passage between shopping areas in the city centre as well as being a shopping area in its own right.

There were stickers in the ground reminding visitors to keep appropriate distance from one another:

These signs weren’t that big, but they were big enough to catch your eye for sure. What I was less impressed with was the attempt to create one-way walking areas near the entrances to The Passage, as the arrows were tiny, hard to see and easily ignored. In fact, I watched two people walk right over them in the wrong direction, not a care in the world.

I do think the one way arrows will need to be ‘improved’ in the coming weeks as this part only gets busier and busier. They should have been more of them, with clearer lines in the floor. Also perhaps a dividing line that went straight down the middle for the entirety of the shopping area. But we will see how it works out in the coming weeks and months.

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TV measurement lines (Or: Coolblue in The Hague)

Over the weekend Marco and I went to the Coolblue store in The Hague. Coolblue specializes in consumer electronics and only had an online presence — that is, until a few years ago when they started opening a few physical stores in The Netherlands.

I would describe it like an electronics store crossed with an Apple store – sure, they sell stuff but they also want to show off their stuff and let you browse around. The store has a minimalist feel, with a lot of empty space. And you can even get free tea and coffee. Generally I go to the online store to browse, and I only visit the physical store if I know exactly what I want. I haven’t tried the free tea or coffee quite yet. If I do I’ll let you know how it tastes.

But last weekend I had to take a photo of the floor.

Yeah – you heard me, the floor.

In the television department they have guides showing you how large each tv size is. They even thoughtfully provided a centimeter guide as well (which is logical since televisions are of course listed in cm here). I’m not quite sure how helpful the guidelines are—I think it would have been better to put each measurement next to each other and start from the same spot—but the thought is there.

I can just imagine someone grabbing a television off the display and dragging it to the guide area to double check that the television they were looking at was indeed 50 inches. Leaving scratch marks in the floor along the way…

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Christmas at Bijenkorf, The Hague (Or: 2019 edition)

Last week a colleague and I had some extra time on our hands after work so we decided to check out the Christmas section at Bijenkorf in The Hague. Here are some of the photos I took:

The gingerbread houses look so yummy!
A look at the Christmas tree theme this year
A beautiful (if slightly busy/crowded) table setting
More Christmas items, and ornaments for sale in the background

I always check out the Christmas section at Bijenkorf – they make some wonderful items. They come in different sizes and styles, so there is something for (almost) everyone.

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Cleaning day (Or: Hard to reach places)

Well, even those windows need to be washed.

An early morning photo from the inside of De Passage (Dutch Wikipedia article) while the windows were being cleaned.

This covered shopping area was first opened in 1885, making it the oldest shopping centre still in use in the Netherlands.

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