Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Commerce—old and new chains

As I move around town, it’s hard not to notice the high level of commerce, retail shopping and other economic activity. Some places were landmarks when we were last here, and still are—the big Toyota dealer where the Alameda Juan Pablo II crosses Héroes.

One change is in the old shopping center, MetroCentro. We used to go there to get things we needed, and sometimes to have lunch in the old food court. And to make phone calls; there was a bank of public phones, some of them even reliable. To get to the Photo Café, I have to change buses ands pickl up the 30B here, so yesterday I walked around a little inside. What a disappointment! The comfortable seediness is gone. It’s been rebuilt, everything is fancy and irritatingly modern in design. Gross! But the many chain restaurants that have replaced the old ones made me think about the signs—and shops—I’ve been passing. For people who like me haven’t been here for a while, I started compiling a list of familiar and new (to me) chains. Here’s the direct installment:

Familiar chains:

-Super Selectos (supermarkets)

-Mister Donut—but there seem to be a lot more of them, and now some have a Mister Cakes next to them

-El Curacao (department store)

-Optica Franklin—still with that cartoon of Benjamin Franklin wearing his specs

-La Dispansa de Don Juan

-Pollo Campero (fried chicken, natch)

-Pops (an ice-cream parlor chain of good memory—have to try it again)

-Pizza Hut. Well, they’ve been here for a long time, but now their presence is incredible. To use a technical marketing term, they are fucking everywhere! Sometimes within a couple of blocks, and a worker in the hotel told me he knows of a place where there are two across the street from each other. I passed on on the bus, and there ust have been thirty delivery motorcycles in their lot!

Newer chains and stores:

-KFC. I think they were always here, but they too seem to have a lot of stores now

Biggest (hamburgers) I think they were also here, but now they’re more common, and have just introduced pupusas “Ya hay pupusas en Biggest.” Asceroso!



-Office Depot. At least one very big store on Héroes

-Tony Roma’s

-Burger King. Quite a few

-Payless Shoes


and banks:

-Scotiabank. Hard to believe, but in some areas they seem to have a branch every other block.


One nice thing about where I am is that even in the “Plaza Futura” “food court” all the restaurants seem to be local—or if they’re chains, they’re local chains…

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