I timed how long it took to walk to the nearest mini-mall, to post some letters. 43 minutes, walking at a normal pace. No wonder it always seems to take forever to get there!
They always have the same shops, or same types of shops. It varies slightly by location and number of shops in teh total area, but you can almost guarantee each one will have:
A coffee or juice shop (Starbucks, Jamba Juice etc)
A large assortment of takeaway shops and donut shops (Taco Bell, Carl Junior's, etc etc ad nauseum)
A Bank of the West or Bank of America
A drugstore (Long's, Rite Aid, Walgreens)
A Fed-ex Kinkos / other post office and printing shop
A Wolf Camera (Why are they so popular?)
A hair salon
A nail salon
A supermarket (e.g. Nob Hill or Albertsons)
And an office supplies depot.
If you're lucky, it will also have an assortment of: a liquor store, a gym, a petrol station (called 76), a clothing shop, a fabric/ craft shop, and "Dollar Tree" (similar to "The $2 Shop" in NZ) which Alex has just discovered, and he and Stefan are in love with. (We haven't been there yet.)
It seems almost every supermarket has a pharmacy, and every pharmacy is almost a supermarket (minus actual fresh food).
Every few blocks , there is another of these mini-malls. Where do the customers come from? Yet they always seem to be busy and well-populated, mostly by 'moms'. I guess there are a lot of moms here in the States with free time.
I am turning slightly American. I say "store" constantly. I had to go back and change all those to 'shop' in this post. Stefan has started gaining American inflections, since he lives with Onita. So have I. Ah well, at least you won't all notice it when we come back. We still speak Kiwi English to each other. And we got Onita to answer to 'jandals', which she swore she would only call 'sandals' or 'flip-flops'.