That reality is quite different from the situation in many Israeli towns and cities, where the family run corner store - the "makolet" is still ubiquitous.
|Liat Market, Ra'anana|
Until relatively recently, the options were credit or cash, though now the owners moved to a computerized system and began accepting credit cards. Like with the old style corner stores, such as the one that my aunt and uncle used to run, the owners get to know quite a number of the customers well. There is a definite sense of a common social fabric. This is partially due to the general Israeli openness and the way in which people interact across the country. But it is also a product of a culture that still values the local corner store and its benefits, including the close personal relationship with the owners. Baked goods, the daily newspapers and the dairy products are all delivered, fresh, early in the morning and many people use these really fresh goods for their breakfast or their packed lunches for themselves or for their kids' school lunches.
While these are only two examples, I have seen these makolets all over the country, in large and small cities and towns. This "makolet culture" is a reflection of a number of aspects of life in Israel. It captures the warm and close social interaction that often takes place between retailers and customers, when they are not angrily negotiating over the appropriate price of an item. It also captures the lack of a hard social barrier than can often exist in North America between store owners and their patrons. And while watching people pay for goods in the makolet, often by way of credit, with payments for larger orders divided up over a number of installments, you get the sense that the makolet is also represenative of the way in which many retail transactions are conducted.
Overall, these makolets are throwbacks to the corner stores of years ago in many large North American cities, like the one that my aunt and uncle ran for so many years. But unlike the situation in North America, there seems to be little likelihood that these makolets will vansih anytime soon. They are far too ingrained in the social fabric of the country.