Tag Archives: grocery stores

Think Global Shop Local

5 Oct

In the mid-1970’s when I lived and traveled in Mexico; there were no grocery stores. Large open-air mercados showed up predictably, one or two days a week and were the norm. We took our woven bags and baskets to bring home purchases. Bulk items such as frijoles were wrapped in newspaper. Plastic bags were non-existent.

Saturday Farmer's Market in Chetumal

Saturday Farmer’s Market in Chetumal

Coconuts in season. Open with a machete.

Coconuts in season. Open with a machete.

Then there were little corner stores where one could exchange an empty bottle and buy a coke. There were a few non-perishables sold and kerosene for the hot water heater.

Today there are large grocery stores much as we have in the States. Some are familiar such as Walmart and Sam’s Club. Others are Mexican – Chedraui and Soriana.

The little corner stores are still the backbone of Mexico. When I first arrived a year ago, I saw abarrotes and didn’t know what it meant. Pulling out my handy pocket dictionery, I found “groceries”.

A busy little store.

A busy little store.

There are also mini-supers, tiendas and bodegas. Some are small enough to be operated out of a living room. The role that they play for low income people is invaluable. Where else can you buy one aspirin or one roll of toilet paper? Occasionaly there are eggs on the counter or tortillas warm in an insulated container. Mostly the tiendas are full of chips, candy, soda, alcohol and other processed foods.


Like the U.S., Mexico has its problems with obesity and diabetes, and the shelves of five liter bottles of coke abound.



This store expanded to include fruit, clothes and plants.

This store expanded to include fruit, clothes and plants.

Every block has its little store. They function as a social center where gossip is exchanged and neighborhood news reported. The other day we bought thirty sheets of copy paper and ten paper clips. Bacalar is truly a world apart, even for Mexico.


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