Monday, January 24, 2011

rumble on aisle three

Last April, in warning! 7-11 at 2 o' clock, I wrote that three Mexican convenience stores had opened in Barra de Navidad, the town across the bay from Melaque.  With all of the attendant horrors that expatriates see in inevitable modernity.

I also noted that no stores of that ilk had yet opened in my village -- even though it has a far larger population.

That was then.  This is now.

When I returned to Melaque, I discovered not one, but two, new convenience stores within a block of each other.  An Oxxo on the jardin.  And a Kiosko just up the street.

They are effectively indistinguishable from one another -- same store colors with almost exactly the same offerings.  Beverages.  Salty things to snack on -- usually with lots of chili and lime.  Small jars of whatever.

I was a bit surprised that my expatriate friends had not told me tales of how terrible these stores are.  The usual indictment is they will endanger the local mom and pop grocery stores in the neighborhoods.

I think I know why I have not heard much chicken yard clucking.  Because the stores are down town, they do not compete directly with the stores we have in our neighborhoods.  The neighborhood places are small grocery stores (ironically called supers).  You can buy a small amount of almost anything you can get in a larger store.

And the potential market is different.  Oxxo and Kiosko stores are oriented toward young Mexicans who want to appear chic.  Nothing smells of middle class respectability like paying far too much for a Coke Light.

It has also turned out to be a place to see elderly pale-skinned tourists who seem to find the places an adequate substitute for their up north ritual of coffee at McDonald's in the morning.

In truth, I am pleased that the stores have found the accommodation that Mexican society eventually discovers.  (Sometimes after a century of shooting one another.)  Oxxo has its people.  And the supers have theirs.

There is no reason why life has to turn into a zero sum game.

No comments: