Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bodega Aurrerá Pátzcuaro Opens

No Frills, and No Thrills, Either

We went today, June 13, 2009, to the newly opened Bodega Aurrerá in Pátzcuaro, after the opening day crowds had subsided. Getting in and out was easy, as long as you are headed up the Libramiento. It's a good location for those living north of the city center.

We arrived at about 11:00 a.m. and it was only moderately busy. The inflatable jump-up-and-down-and-scream games had been deflated and taken away after Tuesday's uproarious opening.

I'm please that the building is relatively attractive, and the paint job is o.k., although the earlier, adobe color was more attractive. (Another, well-known, local blogger, told me that the city made them repaint it to approximate Pátzcuaro traditional colors.)

The publicity campaign had been intense, as sound trucks carted persons costumed as "Mamá Lucha", the indomitable Aurrerá super heroine about the city. Even distant ranchos were visited by publicity trucks bringing a little excitement to la vida cotidiana.

The real life store is fine for what it is, but it has few thrills to anyone seeking specialty foods ("gringo necessities"). Mamá Lucha has fought hard to bring you precios bajos, and that's what it's all about.

Parking seems limited, but probably adequate.
The store has that enjoyable "new store" smell of fresh paint.

It's essentially a stripped-down Wal-Mart, a warehouse look, bare cinder block walls, exposed girders; without flash or decor, focusing on low prices in a no frills environment. Our brief reconnaissance shows a very limited selection of brands and varieties in many categories. There are lots of options in the rice and dried beans department, and in Tequila ready-to-drink. No Controy, pero sí, (ugh!) Margarita Mix.

At least one item was represented only by the house brand.

On the bottled salsas shelf, I couldn't find either Salsa Huichol nor Salsas Cosecha Purhépecha. It was mostly Valentina and La Costeña.

One brand of agua, Santorini, in big garrafones.

The carnicería is small and seems to have a very limited selection, but that could be my (possibly erroneous) impression. Surprisingly, two women were working in the carnicería. I didn't see any men. This seems a little unusual in Mexico.

Huevos, rojos or blancos, I think are higher than in the tienda de abarrotes where we usually shop for them. At Bodega, over $30 for 18. At Abarrotes Los Fresnos, I think they are less. I recall paying $27 for 18 at Soriana, but it's been a while.

The produce was above average, and a wider selection for a supermercado. We got some nice looking and smelling nectarines, pears and firm, not overmatured smaller cucumbers.

I didn't look in detail at the panadería, but it reminded me of Soriana's, perhaps a little smaller.

This is a store for staple items and very few, if any imported luxuries. The deli was pushing those pale pink hot dogs and bland cheeses so beloved in Mexico. Not a Chorizo Español or Jamón Serrano to be seen.
The meat department, surprisingly, not the Deli, had some cooked pork ribs in barbecue sauce in a hot case.

The checkouts are narrower than Soriana's. Overall, though, the store's aisles are better arranged, with only two racks of shelves per aisle. Better than Soriana, it's easy to get to the checkout without threading the maze of clothing racks and other merchandise obstructing your way.

There is no snack bar, no cafetería, no kiddie rides, no ATM, as far as I could see. iPod Shuffles and iPod Classics in Electrónica, but no iPod Touches. They don't offer to cook your meat purchase for free. There are also no "Savings Cards", which suits me.

These are my first time impressions, and they may change on future visits.


jeffomatic said...

I am living in Arcelia, GRO for a while this year, and as a gringo, was pleased to see a brand new Bodega Aurrera open there. I feel a bit sorry for the little tiendas all around, as their business will suffer!

Don Cuevas said...

Jeffo; Mexicans welcome Bodega Aurrerá, too. They like saving money, just as we do. Wal-Mart Mexico, at least what we've seen of it in Morelia, is wildly popular.

While it's true that some of the smaller, less effectively run tiendas will suffer, the Mexican consumer benefits by increased savings one stop shopping.

The little neighborhood tiendas will still serve the purpose of being conveniently close to where people live, and where, for a few pesos, one can buy just 5 limones, 1 2.5 liter Coke, a shot of Tequila by the plastic glass, 6 eggs or whatever item in small quantities, without having to make a trip in car or combi to the supermercado.

The rise of the discount supermercado is part of the modernization of Mexico, and in my opinion, should be welcomed.

Some things will probably never die out completely in Mexico, as modernization moves forward. So choices will remain for consumers.

However, it was sad to see the venerable tienda, "La Fortaleza", on Pátzcuaro's Plaza Grande, withdraw to inside the casona in order to rent its prime corner location to a Subway Sandwich store. (Coming soon!)
I don't mind having a Subway, but I'll miss La Fortaleza.

Don Cuevas