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'Vivo En Tampico' Part 5. Shopping.


Jul 13, 2004, 11:07 AM

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'Vivo En Tampico' Part 5. Shopping.

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I praise the Lord and NAFTA for some of the stores Tampico has: HEB Supermarkets; WalMart & Sam's Club; Home Depot & Office Depot...their range of goods is unparalelled. We also have McDonalds, KFC and Burger King for those artery clogging orgies of junkfood…all that’s missing is a Starbucks (just kidding!)

Additionally, thanks to the towering intelligence of men such as Vinton Cerf, Mark Andreesen and Tim Berners-Lee, combined with the business acumen of Michael Dell and William Gates, cheap computers and the Internet have brought the world of manufactured goods to my desktop right here…if only I can persuade the Correos that using burros is not an economic way to deliver the mail!

There are many excellent Mexican homegrown stores in Tampico as well. We have a large branch of the department store ‘Liverpool’ (so named, apparently, because its founder shipped his imported European produce via the English port of Liverpool) which is as good as any of the big London stores for variety and quality. We also have a large branch of ‘Sanborns’ which is very good for books, magazines and semi-luxury goods – it also has a very good restaurant upstairs. There is also a Sears and a Woolworths in the central downtown area.

Opposite the Liverpool there is a small indoor mall called ‘Tres Arcos’ which, over the last 5 years, has moved progressively further and further upmarket so that it now features very expensive boutiques indeed. However, it is a nice, clean, cool place with a large Vips restaurant attached and is definitely the place to be seen by the upwardly mobile.

In recent years, a number of arts and crafts stores and specialist furniture stores have opened around Av. Ejercito Mexicano. Some are better than other but one that is especially noteworthy is at the Hidalgo Ave. end of Ejercito Mexicano. The range of goods found in these places, especially items like ‘Talaverra’ style ceramics, is not as wide as in other parts of Mexico (the town of Dolores Hidalgo in Guanjuato is the place for ceramics, apparently) but is representative.

The supermarkets of Tampico – Commercial Mexicana, Soriana, Chedraui, Gigante and their like – are pretty much what one would expect to see anywhere in the developed world, given the reach of the transnational corporations such as Nestle, Procter & Gamble, ConAgra and Unilever. In fact, when my wife was first in London she remarked that the supermarkets there were pretty similar to the ones at ‘home’ – as she explained to her sister, later, seeing familiar brands such as Colgate, Green Giant (‘Gigante Verde’), Del Monte, Kellogg and Heinz made her feel she was at home!

We also have a local chain owned by our current mayor (El Presidente Municipal) called ‘Arteli’. The central market downtown, in my opinion, isn’t always the best place for fresh fruit & vegetables. Sometimes, the supermarkets have a wider and nicer selection, albeit a little more expensive.

I do miss the large bookstores of London as well as HMV Records and various speciality stores but, thanks to the Internet, I can obtain various things even if the experience of browsing is a pleasure denied me. Of course, we do go to 'el otro lado' 3 or 4 times a year as well. My wife says that the selection of babywear and childrenswear in Tampico is not as good as she would like. Her 'fix' is to go to Houston and spend a few days at the Katy Mills mall - I am quite happy with McAllen, personally.

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