My hometown is Vilvoorde, a city with about 43,000 inhabitants neighboring the Belgian capital of Brussels and with a checkered past. Vilvoorde thrived during the Industrial Revolution due to the proximity to Brussels and the excellent transport infrastructure. Being one of the largest industrial areas around Brussels, the city remained successful until the late nineties when subsequent economic crises started to have an adverse effect on the economy. As a result, Vilvoorde received a rather grey and negative image which is sometimes propagated to this day. Local commercial policy (or the lack thereof) hasn’t been able to stop increasing shop vacancy in the main shopping street, which only aggravated the reputation. Lately a trend has been rising in our city next to the river Zenne. One that might point towards the answer for both the local economy and the city as a whole, if policy makers choose to see and address it. Let me tell you about Hipster Vilvoorde.
While researching another blog post today, I made a remarkable observation. German online retailer Zalando seems to practice considerable direct price discrimination. In Belgium, the exact same Nike shoe is priced at double the priced it is listed at in the UK. Normally it wouldn’t have caught my attention: the British pound has been subject to significant devaluation lately and a different market may imply a different supplier or fulfillment cost. A 100% markup can’t be explained by those arguments, though. Further snooping around revealed that the UK and Belgian sites must be selling the exact same physical shoes, as both list a single pair in size 12.5 available. Not exactly the consumer benefit you were expecting after eliminating boundaries and physical stores, now did ya?
In my quest for a decent traditional Thai massage in Belgium, I came across Baan Prathumwan in Antwerp. The inside looks like a proper above-average massage parlor like you find them in Siam. Sadly, they could not schedule me in. Next time, I will make a reservation and do a proper review.
I’m all for showing a product from all angles in an online store, but Zalando has a strange way of picking the main image sometimes. As a fan of all things dark blue, I do like these Adidas Superstar Triples in tech ink, though. But do I like them better than the Nike Huarache in midnight navy? Can’t decide.
With my supply of whey products replenished, time has almost come to straighten up and fly right. My period of extensive traveling comes to a pauze halfway through February and I plan to hit the gym hard. If you are anything like me, having your favorite products around helps keep motivation up. I like to start my day either with a breakfast shake based on Protech’s Whey Breakfast, or with same oatmeal-and-skimmed-milk with a scoop of Protech‘s vanilla 3whey. Absolutely delicious and I hope the upcoming improved taste of Whey Breakfast won’t have too much of an impact. Throughout the day, I prefer Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey in the double rich chocolate taste. All of them are top tips if you want both good products without a trade-off on flavor.
Maybe it’s just the remarkable advertising profile Facebook has given me, but adverts on my Facebook wall have been strange for a while. Endless Kickstarter wristwatch suggestions have just given way to middle-aged women with the intention to show their knickers. Written in fluent Gibberish, this particular one reads something like On the feelings of a woman alone, you will have experienced differently. Passion impulse, tremendous delight from here. Recipes, tips and all things kitchen for any level of chef. The links leads to either this blank website or this Facebook page with a picture of a smiling girl. Strange, isn’t it? Who pays for such useless publicity?
For about a decade America Today‘s self-branded Alex boxer were my absolute favorite. Well-designed (wedgie-proof ;-)), durable and comfortable, they offered great value for quality that was similar to Calvin Klein, but at a far better price. At one point however, an inside label was added that seriously irritated the skin and rendered them unusable (unless worn inside-out). A new generation slightly addressed this issue, but did not resolve completely … and I had to part ways with my favorite brand. Last week, I was informed that America Today had finally found a solution by simply removing the label … two days later the new version arrived at my door step. Perfect! The new boxers are available in their online store, but be careful the improvement only applies to this and this product. They are available with a buy two get one free deal and the 15FLIPIT coupon code gets you an additional 15% discount until the end of January 2016. Bargain.
Whenever I return to Europe after a longer period in the Land of Smiles, I always take a selection of products with me. Let’s skip the ones that are to be expected and let me tell you about the more unlikely apparel, cosmetics and seasoning.
As posted yesterday, I reluctantly joined Basic-Fit. Today, I decided to have a look into the Yanga Sports Water that Basic-Fit offers for an addition of EUR 4.99 to the monthly subscription. Having a taste prior to subscribing does not seem to be an option, so I decided to have a look at the dispenser. The back was particularly interesting. I’m just going to post the picture and not offer any further comment. By the way, the tap water in the shower does not imply an additional cost.
After having trained at an independently-owned gym with a friendly atmosphere for the last decade, I reluctantly became a Basic-Fit member today. Not a big fan of corporate gyms, it was the most sensible choice. Three locations relatively close by, a fourth on the way and dirt-cheap prices … there wasn’t a real alternative. Basic-fit offers three subscriptions: Easy, Smart and Flex. The latter two use direct debit, where you allow them to take the fee directly out of your bank account. Not an option in my opinion. Past experience with direct debit has proven this to be troublesome to get rid of. The Easy subscription implies the payment of one year’s subscription in advance, does not imply direct debit and comes down to €18,16/month when the joining fee and current promotion are factored in. Hardly breaking the bank. It’s too soon to review the facilities, right now … patience. Just one observation: the color scheme isn’t exactly easy on the eyes. 😉