Poland has had a hell of a job in recent years in trying to combat the negative effect of television pictures from the 70s and 80s beamed around the world as the Polish people battled with and eventually demolished Communism. Among the gray, grainy, wintery images which portrayed the country as a miserable place permanently in the grip of revolution and icy winters, the other image which seems to have stuck is that of the Polish queue. Nowhere were the failings of the Communist system more evident and the lot of the Polish people so poor than in those pictures of long lines of people queuing outside shops with little or nothing inside of them. And yet despite the regular mention of Poland being the only EU nation not to have fallen into recession during the current economic downturn, the image of its shopping and those blasted queues is one that is proving particularly hard to shift.
So while the images of a grey populace living in grey buildings under grey skies (with the odd Polar bear in the background) have been addressed with building programs and marketing campaigns showing Poland in colour, we thought we’d highlight the shopping options now available as well as give you some local gift ideas and where you can pick them up.
The shopping options in the Tri-city have changed beyond recognition since the days in the late 1990s that Gdansk In Your Pocket first rode into town. International branded stores had only just appeared and while there was a western style mall in Gdynia (a much expanded and remodelled Kilf is still there), Poles would more often visit to view than to buy – a reflection of the general lack of disposable income available at the time and the novelty value of huge shopping malls or superstores like IKEA or Carrefour.
That was then though. The early years of the 21st century saw huge development in the retail sector with state of the art malls appearing all along the coast and most noticeably at pretty much every major exit on the Tri-city ring road (Obwodnica). Now it is easier to count the international brand names who are not present than those that are. Where once we would list lots of individual shops providing particular goods and services things have now reached the stage where most places can be found under one roof. So if your ambition is to shop until you drop while you are here we suggest the first place you look is at the list of hypermarkets and malls listed in our shopping section. While this is not a list of all, it is a selection of what we view as the best ones from each of the 3 cities. With Madison the most central in Gdansk old town, Klif the most upmarket in the whole city and Galeria Baltycka the most convenient and biggest in the 3 cities you can sate most shopping desires there.
A tour around the Obwodnica (Tri-city Ring Road) will bring in the huge discount park which is Fashion House Outlet Centre as well as the huge hypermarkets of Carrefour, Auchan and Real. While you can find more information on them and how to get to them in our shopping section we have put together a list of gift and souvenir suggestions which might take a little more searching in order to find.