Posts Tagged ‘shopping’


OXXO: Mexico’s Answer to the 24-Hour Mini Mart

Monday, July 26th, 2010

An OXXO storefront in downtown Puebla, Mexico.Forget toothpaste? Need an antacid? Crave a candy bar? Convenience stores can be lifesavers for travelers — or at least make the trip more comfortable. Throughout Mexico, mini marts are an important hub of local activity, too: Residents can pay their cable and utility bills, buy potable water, reload the credit on their cell phones, and more.

Most neighborhoods have at least one corner market (typically called la tienda de la esquina or una miscelanea in Spanish) that sells miscellaneous goods as varied as tissue, AA batteries, ripe avocados, coffee, and lottery tickets. Many major cities, including Puebla and Cholula, also have OXXO (pronounced “OX-oh”).

With some 7,300 outlets in 350 cities nationwide, OXXO is the largest chain of convenience stores in Mexico. The chain is owned by FEMSA — the company behind Tecate, Indio, and Sol beers — and run largely by franchisees. FEMSA opened its first OXXO in Monterrey the 1970s to avoid using third-party distributors for its beer; earlier this year, it sold its brewery to Heineken for $5.7 billion.

“[OXXO] has become one of my favorite places for hotel essentials like snacks, water, booze, and cigars,” writes blogger El Gringo Guapo. “Perhaps one of the best things about this wonderful [place] that is so different from where we are from is that they carry a modest selection of booze. I’m not talking beer or wine coolers here; I’m talking tequila, scotch, whiskey and rum, and it’s reasonably priced! I bought a bottle of 200 mL bottle of El Jimador for 30 pesos, $2.38! This costs around 15 bucks in the states. Mmm, REAL tequila.”

A quick scan of the Yellow Pages reveals more than 100 OXXO stores in Puebla. Here, OXXO competes with scores of locally owned shops and supermarkets like Walmart, Mega, Soriana, and Superama. The chain’s goal, according to its corporate website, is to provide “a wide range of products and services that are useful and practical for daily life.”

Visitors will be able to spot OXXO by its prominent red, white, and gold signage all over town. Some locations are open 24 hours, a rarity in Puebla that gives OXXO a competitive edge over other stores.

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Hipster Hangout: Cholula’s Container City

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

As the name suggests, Container City is built entirely of recycled shipping containers.Recycling is not yet a big part of Mexican culture, but repurposing certainly is, and clever developers in San Andrés Cholula have taken the concept to its extreme: Gabriel Esper Caram and his partner built an entire city of salvaged shipping containers, many of which are adorned with reused materials, from bottle caps to plastic tubing.

Container City, frequently referred to as simply los containers, isn’t really a city, of course. It’s a roughly 50,000-square-foot strip mall for hipsters that houses boutique clothing stores, restaurants, bars and clubs, a dry cleaner, a tattoo parlor, and a bus depot.

“The creation of a type of Soho or Palermo or Condesa was a fundamental objective, realized with high regard for the needs of the tenants and the magnificent location [near the pyramid],” the developers, who also wanted to build something sustainable, explain on their website. “If you love all things on the vanguard, urban design, or following the latest design and style trends, you should come get to know this project.”

Like almost everything else in Cholula, Container City caters to students from the nearby university (UDLAP), which means its businesses change themes, names, and hands fairly regularly. But the overall laid-back nature of the place, enhanced by the whimsically painted shipping containers, makes it a pleasant spot for patrons of any age to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, an afternoon cup of tea, or a rock & roll nightcap.

“There’s plenty of outdoor space to sit around and hang out, and there are events and bands scheduled all the time,” Bridgette Meinhold noted earlier this year on the Inhabitat design blog.

Our favorite spot is Taxi bar, which hosts live music most evenings. Note that, if you’re enjoying a beer at Taxi and get hungry, you can order food (tacos, sushi, doner kebab) from the neighboring restaurants; look for wait staff wandering around with menus. La Martina next door serves sinfully good deep-fried cecina (salt-cured beef).

The Container City is located at the corner of 12 Oriente and 2 Norte in San Andrés Cholula. Hours vary wildly, but you’ll find most businesses open daily in the late afternoon.

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Posted in Explore, Featured, Nightlife | 6 Comments »