bodega / dépanneur / konbini / offy / sari-sari / pulperia / misceláneas
July 27, 2019 12:57 PM   Subscribe

What Do You Call the Corner Store? [Atlas Obscura]
“Every city has something like this, the anchor tenant in many city-dweller’s mental maps of their neighborhood. But in many places, you’d be laughed out of the building for calling it a “convenience store”. It’s a bodega. It’s a packie. It’s a party store. What you call the store on the corner says a lot about where you live.”

Convenience store [Wikipedia]
A brief survey of convenience stores around the world.
So long, soggy hot dog: The convenience store reinvented [CBC]
“Get lost. Gatorade. How about a bottle of organic cold pressed juice for $12? So long, soggy hot dog from the roller grill. Try the tasty pesto mushroom sandwich on fresh bread with organic red peppers, leafy greens and feta.”
The unique culture of Japanese convenience stores [BBC]
The BBC investigates konbinis, Japanese snacks, and Sayaka Murata's novel Convenience Store Woman. “The true star of the unorthodox character’s story is her workplace, described as a tiny ecosystem, aimed not only at providing consumers nourishment, but also infusing their lives with new sources of joy.”
Every Amazing Thing You've Heard About Japanese Convenience Stores Is True [Eater]
“Not every aspect of the conbini is self-explanatory; here's everything you might need to know for the optimum experience.”
6 Delicious Convenience Store Recipes You Have To Try When Visiting Korea [Soompi]
What it says on the tin: six receipes consisting entirely of mashed-up Korean convenience store ingredients, from Blue Lemonade Soju Mojito to the eponymous “Mark Meal”.
Bodega Cats In Their Own Words [WNYC]
“Surrounded by teas, herbs and adoring fans, life is pretty relaxing for Bobo. When he isn't nosing around in the sprouting bamboo in his shop window, this orange tabby is posing for pictures with tourists.” See also: @bodegacatsofinstagram
Previously on MetaFilter, convenience stores have been Organic hellscapes, Made of felt, Hot dog gyms, Automated into oblivion, and Not a bad place to spend the night.
posted by oulipian (101 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Everyone I know here (Seattle) has adopted The Simpsons term and it’s the Kwik-E-Mart.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:00 PM on July 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's the dep.
posted by Beardman at 1:00 PM on July 27, 2019 [12 favorites]


Felicia Davin on Twitter:
it thrills me that "bodega" and "boutique" are the same word (just more intervocalic lenition in Spanish than in French). the Italian is "bottega" and, most thrilling of all, the Latin is APOTHECA, like apothecary
posted by migurski at 1:03 PM on July 27, 2019 [14 favorites]


In the part of NE Florida where I grew up it's the Jiffy and if you've been walking around barefoot and have really grimy feet you've got a case of Jiffy Foot.
posted by saladin at 1:06 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


They’re bodegas here in Oakland, even when they’re operated by Yemenis & Ethiopians.

Because Bay Area.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:07 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


We call it the corner store and our local one sells ginseng root and cuts keys. The also sell Uncle Ray's chips which are cheaper than the grocery store brands and just as tasty. If they started making fresh foods I'd be all over it, fork in hand.
posted by ashbury at 1:08 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


What you call the store on the corner says a lot about where you live.

I haven’t lived anywhere where there was anything one could generously call a corner store since I was 10. And that was still a good 15-20 minute walk, half of which was along the berm of a sidewalk-free road.

I guess you could call all the gas station/convenience stores that populate everywhere “corner stores”, but you still have to drive to get to them, and what they might say about where I live, I dunno. Bunch of dog eating conformists?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:13 PM on July 27, 2019


Grocery.
posted by Splunge at 1:14 PM on July 27, 2019


Boston in particular and New England as a whole has a wide array of words* referring to the corner store. The most interesting is spa, which refers to an independent seller of quick food; today that usually means a deli counter, like you’d find in New York, but it’s also previously included taverns, diners, and soda fountains.
Nowadays, I feel like this usage in reference to convenience store variants is super antiquated. I used to live up the street from the Brookline Spa and it was definitely much more of a sub shop that happened to sell a few relatively shelf stable snack items (chips, packaged donuts, etc.) than it was, say, a 7-11 or Store 24 competitor with an exceptional deli.

Sari-sari stores, in my mind, blur the line between a corner stone and a big city news stand or a market stall. Part of this is that a lot of the sari sari stores that I would go to had the proprietor hanging out at a counter facing the street, so you could just ask for what you needed, have them pick it out for you and then you'd pay them and be on your way. Also they would sell me soda by opening the bottle, pouring it into a plastic bag, sticking in a straw and handing that to me (while they kept the bottle for redemption purposes). So anytime I see a hipster sari-sari store in the Filipino-American parts of LA or SF, I keep thinking that it isn't real unless they sell me soda in a bag.
posted by bl1nk at 1:23 PM on July 27, 2019 [8 favorites]


In the places I’ve lived in Canada, you’ve got your grocery stores, your liquor stores, your drug stores, and 7-11.
posted by mantecol at 1:24 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


2nd for "Liquor Store".
posted by flug at 1:26 PM on July 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


When I was in college in Bristol, Rhode Island, I lived above a diner/coffee shop called Van's Spa. I always wondered about the term Spa, so this sheds some light on it.

Also, heading to the Packy for beer.
posted by sundrop at 1:27 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is timely since I've lately been devoting way too much mental energy on whether it's a " convenience store" or "convenient store." I see both around here and I'm starting to second guess what I've always used.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:27 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Southern California is so dominated by 7-11s that any non-7-11 corner stores are considered 6-12s (at least by me).
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:28 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Party store. (When I lived in Michigan, anyway.)
posted by Stewriffic at 1:33 PM on July 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


Here in Chicago I personally do not have a special word for this, but I notice that it’s important to give your local mini-mart a nickname that you use among friends.
posted by mai at 1:35 PM on July 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Southern England: Corner shop
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:36 PM on July 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Southwestern Ontario: either convenience or variety store.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:41 PM on July 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


Sweden: minilivs, jourlivs
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:45 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Out here in the wilds of Suffolk county (Long Island, NY) we've got endless 7-11's and their non-corporate clones. My favorite is The Barn, AKA Dairy Barn. It's the only drive thru convenience I've ever seen.
posted by Marky at 1:45 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Here in the middle of suburban NJ it's... a convenience store. Seriously.

Go further south towards Philadelphia, and it's almost always by proper brand name: "Wawa" or "Sev" for 7-11. Those two sort of dominate the region down there.
posted by Citrus at 1:47 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Amsterdam: avondwinkel
posted by ouke at 1:50 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


They’re bodegas here in Oakland

Are you sure? I’ve only heard them called corner stores here in Oakland. I always thought of bodega as a New Yorkism.
posted by migurski at 1:55 PM on July 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


Also they would sell me soda by opening the bottle, pouring it into a plastic bag, sticking in a straw and handing that to me (while they kept the bottle for redemption purposes).

People have been mocking Canada over milk in bags for years, and this is a thing that existed in the world?
posted by jacquilynne at 1:56 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


"bodega" and "boutique" are the same word (just more intervocalic lenition in Spanish than in French). the Italian is "bottega" and, most thrilling of all, the Latin is APOTHECA

... "from Ancient Greek ἀποθήκη (apothḗkē, “storehouse”)."
posted by clew at 1:57 PM on July 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


Amsterdam: avondwinkel

Nachtwinkel in Belgium. Right next door to the dagwinkel. Apparently 'winkel' means 'corner' in some more-or-less aged version of Dutch so... yeah...

winkel winkel winkel winkel
posted by logicpunk at 2:03 PM on July 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


Where I grew up in New England, it was the "Red and White". Of course, the store hadn't actually been a Red and White for decades, but people weren't going to change the name they used just because some asshole changed the sign on the outside of the building.

The same was true, now that I think about it, for the grocery store and the pizza place, both of which were invariably referred to by names or owners they'd had at some point in the distant past. If you made the mistake of calling them by their current names, you instantly marked yourself as an outsider or recent arrival.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:04 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Here in San Francisco I had a friend who conjured up “corner store cuisine “ which is anything you could whip up from food items you can find at a corner store. For example you could make a trifle from frozen berries thawed out , from a half pint bottle of rum pour a bit onto a hostess twinkie then add the berries on top. Top off with an aerosol can of whipping cream.
posted by njohnson23 at 2:08 PM on July 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Southern England: Corner shop
posted by EndsOfInvention

Nah I'm super duper southern and had never said that! Don't people say the name of the shop? Like going to Tescos, Sainsburys, Coop, Smile etc? Not that I can remember a non-big-company small shop. Maybe I'm doing this wrong. Really can't think of the name of a little shop rather than the nearest branch of the usual.
posted by peepofgold at 2:08 PM on July 27, 2019


In inner city (not Center City) Philadelphia, there are likely to be a couple of these stores per block in many places, so we tend to call them by their names (Eddie's. The 24 Hour. Non-Stop Deli). And I'm not talking about Wawas. In many blocks of Philadelphia, the corner house on the end of every block was explicitly designed as a storefront or a bar when the plans were made.

They all pretty much stink, mind you, and sell bad stuff at high prices.
posted by Peach at 2:09 PM on July 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid we went to "Mr. Chenier's" which was at one time a Red & White store then later a gas station with a different chain's branding. Until we moved to the big city as kids we called all convience stores "Mr. Chenier's" which confused just about everybody. Mr.Chenier, a distant cousin with a generous ice cream scooping hand, owned the original place for years but even after he retired we still called it "Mr. Chenier's." When I lived in Quebec, it was the Dep. When I lived Missisauga in the 80s we used the branded name - Mac's or Beckers. In my son's circle of friends, they call them Manny Marts named after a place in the neighbourhood. Even the 7-11 is called a Manny Mart.
posted by Ashwagandha at 2:15 PM on July 27, 2019


Nah I'm super duper southern and had never said that! Don't people say the name of the shop? Like going to Tescos, Sainsburys, Coop, Smile etc? Not that I can remember a non-big-company small shop.

Twenty or thirty years ago the little shops weren't a Tescos, Sainsbury's, Co-op, etc. They were mostly independent small businesses. We called them the "corner shop" because they were usually on a corner and they often didn't even have a name. The sign would just be a Coca-Cola ad, or "Newsagent", or "So-and-so's Store".

You see it less and less now - they're either closing or becoming franchises. The one down the road from my parents' house is a Londis now.
posted by automatronic at 2:25 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


In NZ we call them a dairy or a corner dairy. Because it’s where you get your milk and bread etc, and for some reason many are on corners. Now that I live in the SF Bay Area I have no idea what to call them - but I think I normally just call them a grocery store (as opposed to a large supermarket) or sometimes a liquor shop (because that seems to be the main focus of many of them)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:33 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Späti in Berlin, short for Spätkauf or "late store". Because somehow they're open 17 hours a day in a nation where most shops are required by law to close early. Not only do they sell cold beer but they usually have a table or two outside where you can sit and drink said beef. Which leads to a whole scene of Späti crawls in the warm months, for when the Biergarten is too expensive.
posted by Nelson at 2:33 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


Potentially offensive naming ahead....in Barcelona, the majority are owned by Pakistanis, so they are called Pakis (no matter who owns it), which doesn't have the pejorative sense it does in the UK, but makes Brits cringe when they hear it.
If it's one of those shops that sells lots of cheap things (phone cases, random tools, kids toys, cheap pots and pans etc), it's called a Chino, as the majority seem to be owned by chinese immigrants.
In Buenos Aires, there's not much of a Pakistani population and the convenience stores are owned by chinese immigrants, so there it's called a chino!
posted by conifer at 2:37 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also the Atlas Obscura link states that
In the cities of New Zealand and Australia, the convenience store is known as a milk bar
Yeah, nah. Not even. Maybe in like 1953 or something but I have *never* heard that used in NZ (or Australia but maybe they use it?)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:38 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Another Philadelphia-ism: “Papi store.” Google tells me it’s likely a shortened version of “mama y papi” and was first used for stores run by Latinx families, but these days a papi store can be run by people of any ethnicity. However, papi stores are absolutely never chains; Wawa and 7-11 are just Wawa and 7-11. I’ve also never heard a white person say papi store, even those with deep Philly roots. Personally, I default to corner store.
posted by ActionPopulated at 2:41 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Alcohol is not sold in all corner stores, leading to the popularity of packies, short for “package stores”

Er, when I lived in the UK (late 1980s) they were called by many "paki shops" or just "the paki" and yes, it was a racist slur. [note there are a lot of racist slurs in that wikipedia article]

[on preview, see conifer's comment above]
posted by chavenet at 2:45 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


On the island of St. Martin they are pretty much universally called the Chinese, and are mostly Asian-owned. Also, most East Asians are called Chinese or Chinee as well.

As an aside, I was once on a radio show that had another guest who was a local comedian who was coming out of a decade of retirement. In the discussion with the hosts about what had or hadn’t changed in comedy, one of the first things he said was that imitating Chinese people was still funny. I am half-Asian.
posted by snofoam at 2:48 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Er, when I lived in the UK (late 1980s) they were called by many "paki shops"

Sure, but that doesn't mean the etymology is the same for the stores in New England.
posted by asterix at 2:51 PM on July 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


The band Cornershop is named after this racist stereotype.
posted by splitpeasoup at 3:20 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


They’re bodegas here in Oakland

Are you sure? I’ve only heard them called corner stores here in Oakland.


Hmm. I don't remember anyone calling them bodegas, but obviously some people must. I also lived near a few different stores, so mostly I just remember having to specify which one you were going to: "I'm going to go to Nature's Best."

Now I want to survey my Oakland friends, especially my Oakland-born-and-raised friends.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:23 PM on July 27, 2019


Nature’s Best was ours as well; now we live across the street from the owners and down the street from one of their other stores.
posted by migurski at 3:36 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I (Chicago raised) call them corner groceries, though growing up I think it was just 'white hen' or 'fake white hen'. Bodegas only worked of either they were Latinx owned or in a Latinx neighborhood, otherwise it seemed weird.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:47 PM on July 27, 2019


> My favorite is The Barn, AKA Dairy Barn. It's the only drive thru convenience I've ever seen.

The funny thing about Dairy Barn is that they can legally sell beer, but not to anyone "in a car." Which means that people buying beer have to open their car doors and basically stand up momentarily to receive their beer.
posted by smelendez at 3:52 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Surely it's all of England that uses the term "corner shop", not just southern England, isn't it? I bet Scotland's got its own name for them, though.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:55 PM on July 27, 2019


"I (Chicago raised) call them corner groceries, though growing up I think it was just 'white hen' or 'fake white hen'. "

Can confirm White Hen and "fake White Hen" for Chicago-area convenience stores back in the day (now they're all 7-11s). Or, if you were sassy, the "Purple Turkey."

My mom met Michael Jordan at a White Hen one time, he was buying Diet Coke and potato chips and she got his autograph. She left me in the car while she ran in to get milk. :(
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:58 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also amusing to me is how people in NYC might refer to the store differently based on what they're buying. So it's "the deli" if you're getting a sandwich and the bodega the rest of the time.

I never thought about how Chicago doesn't really have a name for these stores. I'm wondering if that's because historically many bars were also liquor stores and took a lot of this traffic, but that's just speculation.

"Spa" is definitely just a historic term in New England. And I wonder how many people still say "packie" unironically. It usually seems to have a sort-of tongue in cheek "pahk ya cah" sound to it, from the native Bostonians I know.

I think personally I like neighborhoods where the stores are referred to by color, like "oh no, they never have garlic at the pink store, you gotta go to the yellow store for that."
posted by smelendez at 3:58 PM on July 27, 2019


> I wonder how many people still say "packie" unironically. It usually seems to have a sort-of tongue in cheek "pahk ya cah" sound to it, from the native Bostonians I know

My housemates and I unironically called it the packy (which is not a bodega) when I lived there. I don't know if I'd qualify as a native.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:04 PM on July 27, 2019


" Because it’s where you get your milk and bread etc, and for some reason many are on corners. "

I don't know a ton about NZ housing stock history, but I know you had streetcars ("trams") and suburbs/towns built along those lines, so it's doubtless pretty similar: in the US, in the 1900s to 1930s when "streetcar suburbs" (most of which have long since been absorbed into cities and are often now part of the city center or considered walkable to the downtown, so not really suburbs as we think of them today) began to be purpose-built by a single developer, they would buy up a farm or several farms, subdivide it (hence "subdivision" for a lot of American neighborhoods), put in the roads and utlities, and then sell a combination of vacant lots for homeowners to build their own houses and lots with houses built by the developer according to 3 to 5 plans that the developer worked from. They were residential neighborhoods of either row houses or detached houses, appealing to working-class families (often recently unionized) wanted to get out of tenements and similarly unappealing city apartments. But as car ownership was rare and for the wealthy, and horse ownership not common among working-class city people, it was absolutely crucial to have walkable stores in these neighborhoods or nobody would move there. The husband would take the streetcar to the factory he worked at (typically they stopped at factories' front doors); the wife would be at home with the children and would walk to the store for groceries, typically every day or every two days (since whatever you bought you had to carry, and a lot of these houses didn't have iceboxes yet). So the developers turned corner lots (which is where the streetcar stopped, at the corner) into corner stores, often live/work with a house behind or an apartment above the store. They were most frequently run as small groceries, but once a neighborhood was adequately grocery-served, you'd also find barber shops, soda fountains, five-and-dimes, and other similar small businesses.

If you go to these types of neighborhoods and look, corner stores are often on specific KINDS of corners, because the streets that the streetcars ran on are a little different from the streets that were a block back off the streetcar line. (Sometimes they're wider, or have different utility placement, and the housing lots tend to be a bit larger, whereas the lots a couple blocks off the streetcar line are more cramped; often the houses themselves are a bit larger too, if the original housing is still there, because you paid a price premium to be right on the line.) That's all been subsumed by cars, of course, but if you know what to look for, you can learn to spot a streetcar neighborhood pretty easily, and can generally guess which streets the line ran on based on house location, lot size, and corner store placement (even if the corner stores have long since been converted to houses). Then you can go to the local library and look up the old streetcar lines and find out you were correct, and generally you'll find a streetcar stop wherever you found a corner store!

Anyway, that's why they're on corners! If you want to go look for "streetcar suburbs," it's easier in smaller cities. A city like Chicago long since ate most of its streetcar suburbs and turned them into highrise apartment building areas because of demands for higher density, but a small city like South Bend or Peoria, large parts of at least some streetcar suburbs are intact (particularly in poorer parts of the city) because density demands didn't get high enough to devour all those neighborhoods.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:23 PM on July 27, 2019 [15 favorites]


When I was growing up in Rural Pennsylvania – oh, so long ago – we just called it "the store."
And there was one for every little village or significant crossroads. It sold groceries and other household needs, cigarettes, candy, ice cold soda pop in water-filled coolers and an ice cream freezer full of popsicles and Nutty Buddies (my favorite). It usually had two gas pumps out front (one premium, one regular) and a post office inside with a beautiful hardwood-and-brass set of post office boxes with a grill where you bought stamps and money orders and such from the store owner/postmaster. If we didn't call it the store, we called by the name of the family – that's right, family, not corporate chain – that owned it. At our crossroads village it was Fitzgerald's, up the highway a mile it was Hahn's, in the little village a mile to the south it was Cyphert's. The owners knew us kids and our parents, and we could get away with nothing.
They started to fade away as supermarkets took root in rural towns, and the advent of convenience stores in smaller towns drove the rest out of business. A few family-owned stores have survived by copying the business model of 7-11 type convenience stores, but they are now under threat from dollar stores.
posted by tommyD at 4:28 PM on July 27, 2019


Now I want to survey my Oakland friends, especially my Oakland-born-and-raised friends.

I've lived in the near East Bay for almost 25 years and I've never heard anyone call them bodegas here.
posted by asterix at 4:32 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


As a small child in Ohio, Convenient or Lawson’s: the name of the store. Nowadays, gas stations, mostly Speedway and BP. United Dairy Farmers (“UDF”) exists but I’m not sure I’ve ever been in one.

After a move to Florida as a kid, there wasn’t really a local corner store in my area. Gas stations and drugstores kind of took up the banner for this kind of purchase, although there was an indie drive-through convenience store called the Breeze-Thru a few neighborhoods over. A little outside of the area, I stopped at 7-11 a lot. They’re my personal fave.
posted by verbminx at 4:33 PM on July 27, 2019


I guess that they'd be called convenience stores here in Pittsburgh but they mostly don't exist. I mean there are 7-11s and gas station shops but not much in the way of corner stores. I think that Rite-Aids and Walgreens mostly fullfil that function here.
posted by octothorpe at 5:19 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


In Texas, a party store was more literal. It was a big building (sometimes drive through) that sold kegs and Solo cups and cases of beer and soda.

In Portland, Oregon, they somehow got the brand name Plaid Pantry.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:29 PM on July 27, 2019


It's an ice house. (South Texas)
posted by usedsongs at 5:41 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Growing up in RI we called these mini-marts genetically and usually went to L’il Peach. Now I’m in MA and it’s convenience stores all the way down
posted by Biblio at 6:26 PM on July 27, 2019


I am now going to the Tante Emma Laden
For some Uncle Ray's. Store, corner store, party store or generally, the stores name.
There was one in Flint... Rob's Stop which became affectionately know to the neighborhood toughs as: Stop and Rob.
posted by clavdivs at 6:28 PM on July 27, 2019


Tante Emma Laden-mom and pop store.

Not pop as in soda but Papa or...
posted by clavdivs at 6:30 PM on July 27, 2019


Here in Chicago I personally do not have a special word for this, but I notice that it’s important to give your local mini-mart a nickname that you use among friends.

This mirrors my Chicago (north side) experience in the 80s and 90s; for instance, the one (now gone) two blocks north of the brown line on Southport was called (by everyone I knew) the Ding Ding, and that differentiated it from the one just a block north of the train, which we didn't like so never named.
posted by davejay at 6:36 PM on July 27, 2019


Party store. (When I lived in Michigan, anyway.)

Yes, this! Occasionally hear liquor store but most of the time it's this. Took me a while to catch on when I moved here.
posted by Freeze Peach at 6:37 PM on July 27, 2019


Where I live: Eddie's Market. Right there next to the bus stop.* There's an Eddie's Market II a mile away, but I'm too OG to go there.
-------
*And, weirdly, a graveyard of skateboard planks of those who, I assume, disrespected Eddie's Market. No, I'm not joking.
posted by SPrintF at 6:49 PM on July 27, 2019


If we're talking about beer, that's bought at a distributor which is usually a garage-like building, sometimes drive-thru. This is Sam Caruso's Beer Distributor in my neighborhood. Sometimes they have chips but not much else other than beer and certainly not wine or booze. Sam's a great guy but it's hard to get out of there in less than twenty minutes because he always wants to chat your ear off.
posted by octothorpe at 6:54 PM on July 27, 2019


When I first moved to Texas, there were only 7-11’s & U-Tote-m’s. U-Tote-m got bought by Circle K but nobody ever called them that. If it had been a U-Tote-m before, that’s what it was called. Then Circle K got bought by somebody else, & we were all glad we hadn’t invested the time in Bothering to learn Circle K, so we kept calling them U-tote-m, even under their third incarnation, whatever it is. If you’ve been around a while you know which convenience stores were U-tote-ms.

But mostly, until they contracted their business about 15 years ago, Texas was so dominated by 7-11 that it became the generic word for convenience store. “Man, I need a drink. There’s got to be a 7-11 or something around here” is pretty much how you’d say it. Or maybe corner store. The 7-11’s were all parted out & most of those still standing are independently-run little cigarette & beer shops pretty much, & who knows what to call them, so 7-11 it is.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:05 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Despite bodega literally being the Mexican Spanish word for corner store, you never hear English speakers use it around here at all. I would use it in Mexico without hesitation, the same way I’d ask where a 7-11 is here, ( “Hay bodega circa aqui?”) but I just don’t hear it used in English. I would assume the Spanish speaking people in Texas would use bodega.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:14 PM on July 27, 2019


When I was a kid those places were called “smoke shops” because they sold cigarettes. Now I think they’re just called convenience stores. Or corner stores if they’re actually on a corner.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:47 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Maybe in like 1953 or something but I have *never* heard that used in NZ (or Australia but maybe they use it?)

We call them milk bars here in Victoria, though there are few of them left. My old neighbourhood had one that had been on the brink of closure for decades, complete with moldy lemons in the front window and sun-faded greeting cards by the door.

In Montreal it was always a “dep”, and in Vancouver it was a corner store or a 7-Eleven. We didn’t have those in Quebec, so it was thrilling to me to see a 7-eleven when I moved to Melbourne. Sadly slurpees are not nearly as good as in my childhood memories.
posted by third word on a random page at 8:00 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Was just discussing "dépanneur" with an academic acquaintance after someone posted a current photo from Quebec City showing a corner store with the name "Accommodation Populaire". He says:

Most of the dépanneurs in Quebec City are called dépanneur, épicerie, alimentation, marché--but they're all colloquially known as dépanneurs. There are a few "accommodations" (approximately 10% according to the yellow pages, or 40 out of 385) but everyone still calls them dépanneur in the spoken language. I have never heard anyone in Quebec City speak the word "accommodation," and people would laugh at you if you did. That's "le dépanneur populaire."

More to the point, he and I agree that "dépanneur" appeared in Montreal between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. I had a rummage in the old Lovell Montreal directories on the BAnQ site to verify this. The same acquaintance says:

FIrst recorded use of Dépanneur was apparently "Dépanneur Saint-Zotique" in 1970, Montreal. By 1975, the word still hadn't reached Quebec City, but there was a Dépan-O-Thèque in Limoilou. Accommodation also seems to have appeared around this time in the Quebec City phonebooks, as there were none in 1960 but loads in the 1970s--it was all Épicerie, Alimentation and Marché before the 70s.

I remember some corner stores being called "Variétés" as it might be "Variétés Verdun" or "Variétés Lepage" or whatever. Lovell has several columns of these in 1975 (one of the last years available) but you never, ever see it any more on a sign in Montreal.

Whatever brought in "dépanneur" it wasn't the law concerning the language on signs, which was passed in 1976. The change had started happening before then.
posted by zadcat at 8:06 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


As mentioned before, they're called a Dairy in New Zealand, not a milk bar. A notable feature is that a lot are independently owned, but are decked out in the blue and white colours of local icecream brand Tip Top. Example. I'd guess more than half the dairies look like this, it's a nationwide pop-culture icon.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 8:15 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


party stooooooore--for all your single-roll toilet paper, penny candy, 25-cent bags of potato chips, malt liquor, and illicit substance needs

Anyway, that's why they're on corners!

Not to be pedantic, but as a general matter retail prefers corners above all, because they get traffic from two different directions. (In fact, having too long blocks can turn into an economic problem, because you have fewer corners.) Having transit stop nearby would, of course, though, be a plus.
posted by praemunire at 8:39 PM on July 27, 2019


In the places I’ve lived in Canada, you’ve got your grocery stores, your liquor stores, your drug stores, and 7-11.

I think we have lived in different places in Canada; to my ears (born in Ontario and educated in the Haligonian, Vancouverite, Montrealais and Torontonian dialects), these four things are distinctly four different types of stores.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:08 PM on July 27, 2019


I want to take this opportunity to share with all of you that suburbs north of Austin have a chain called Wag-A-Bag which is not only fun to say, but the central Texas accent puts just the right swing into the pronunciation. Also, the logo has a weenie dog knocking over a bag of groceries. What's not to love?
posted by slagheap at 9:29 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also if you remember the Nek Minnit meme from many moons ago, if you listen closely you’ll hear that it was outside a Dairy that the poor fellow left his scooter
posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:50 PM on July 27, 2019


Grew up in Seattle,WA and "mini-mart" is what I've used for as long as I can remember. The ones at gas stations are called by brand or just "the gas station". Bodega is surging in popularity and I do like the word for some reason but it does seem very east-coasty.
posted by drinkyclown at 10:01 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


>>In the cities of New Zealand and Australia, the convenience store is known as a milk bar

Yeah, nah. Not even. Maybe in like 1953 or something but I have *never* heard that used in NZ (or Australia but maybe they use it?)


Certainly we called them Milkbars where I grew up in country Victoria (in the 80s/90s). I still instinctively call them that, although they've progressively replaced with 7/11, Ministop, Circle K etc now. Equivalent shops are still very common where I live now in Vietnam, but I don't actually know the local name for them - maybe just tạp hoá?
posted by a very present absence at 10:18 PM on July 27, 2019


I had no idea that party store was a Michigan thing until I moved out to California. I picked up a friend late one to go hang out with some people he wanted to introduce me to, and he mentioned that he forgot to get beer. “No problem,” I said, “we’ll just stop at the party store down the street.”

Pause. Extremely confused look. “What party store?”

“You know,” I said, waving my hand in that general direction. “That little party store just before the corner? Looks kind of sketchy?”

“Uh... no? Don’t think I’ve seen... wait, which corner?”

It took a few more perplexed exchanges before he figured out that I was picturing walking into the liquor store nearby while he was picturing me waltzing into Party City at quarter to midnight, expecting to find beer and perhaps picking up a few balloons and streamers while we were there.
posted by Meghamora at 11:41 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


Long ago in Austin we called 'em the the ice house, later called 'em 7-11 but now they're almost always associated with a gas station and the names keep changing so now I just call 'em the gas station.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:05 AM on July 28, 2019


Now I want to survey my Oakland friends, especially my Oakland-born-and-raised friends.

Another Oaklander here (not native though). I think of corner stores and bodegas as different. Corner stores are smaller and more of their business comes from beer, cigarettes, lottery tickets, ice cream. Bodegas have groceries and Latin American products (though the folks behind the counter are often Middle Eastern). Anyone else make this distinction?
posted by aws17576 at 12:30 AM on July 28, 2019


In Denmark, they are called kiosk. Or 7-11 if they are a 7-11. But when I was a child, you could also go to the is-mejeri: the ice-dairy. Ice-dairy because you could also get blocks of ice for your ice-box if you were an old person without a fridge. After learning that this is a thing in other places, too, I began to think about why. I don't know for sure, but here at least, there were very strict laws on opening hours. On Sundays, and on Saturdays after 2PM, only bakeries, flower shops and ice-dairies were allowed to open, and the dairies chose to supplement their basic dairy goods with some other stuff, like toilet paper, tobacco, packaged bread, coffee and tea, sweets and maybe some tins of fish. Irma, a Danish high-end grocery chain that for some reason is cult among some Japanese, started out as a tiny ice-dairy that also sold coffee. On weekdays all stores, including ice-dairies and bakers, closed at 5:30 PM.
If you wanted any form of alcohol outside hours, you'd have to buy it from a bodega, which confusingly means dive bar in Danish. Back then, the kiosks only sold newspapers, tobacco, sweets and tickets for public transportation within normal opening hours, but I think during the late 70's some of them started openly breaking the law, selling a wider range of goods and staying open out of hours. At some point the kiosks were allowed to remain open at all hours, but a general liberalization didn't begin until 2004 and even then it was still limited to one Sunday a month and a few extra hours on weekdays, so the kiosks were a good business. In Vesterbro in Copenhagen, there is a legendary kiosk, Kihoskh, which has developed from a normal corner shop into a micro-brewery and a lot more. The owner is a philosopher who had four children very rapidly and realized he couldn't support his family by teaching philosophy. Instead he bought a corner store, and over time, as he realized the chains would be become competition when the opening hours were liberalized, he developed his own concept.
The greasy spoon places where you could buy fast-food also began to sell cigarettes and alcohol (their menu was typically roast chicken and fries, fried fish and fries, hotdogs, and sandwiches with either roast pork or hamburger. Maybe also Chinese food if the owners were Asian). These were called Grillen (the Grill) or Kina-Grillen, (the China-Grill), regardless of what the sign out front said. They are very rare today in their original form.
posted by mumimor at 1:19 AM on July 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was born in the Dorchester part of Boston, Massachusetts. Those of us who are OFD (Originally From Dorchester) back in the day called them:

* "the corner store" (if it was run down), or
* the "spa" (if it wasn't), or
* the "packie" (if it sold packages, i.e. liquor.)
posted by andreaazure at 1:21 AM on July 28, 2019


(On further reading: AFAIK there were approximately zero Pakistanis in Dorchester from 1975-1984, so I assume it wasn't making that reference.)
posted by andreaazure at 1:24 AM on July 28, 2019


In Paris they are (or were, I last heard this ~20 years ago) often called l'arabe, presumably analogously to the UK paki.
posted by grubby at 3:30 AM on July 28, 2019


In Denmark, they are called kiosk

Also called a kiosk in the Köln-ish areas of Germany
posted by Bibliogeek at 4:23 AM on July 28, 2019


"Spa" is definitely just a historic term in New England.

Although NYC does have the iconic Gem Spa on St. Marks Place, which has been there for roughly 80 years. It's where you get your egg cream. They had their tobacco license revoked recently for selling to a minor, so chances are they will be disappearing soon.
posted by jeremias at 5:09 AM on July 28, 2019


Yeah, nah. Not even. Maybe in like 1953 or something but I have *never* heard that used in NZ (or Australia but maybe they use it?)

I grew up in South Australia and the corner store was called the deli. Caused a lot of confusion when I moved to Queensland because people couldn't understand why I wanted to go to the meat counter at the supermarket for snacks.
posted by tectressa at 5:23 AM on July 28, 2019


Rural Western Washington of my 90's childhood had/still pretty much has the general store, sometimes just called the convenience store. The one closest to my house was the Rainbow Mary, which had gas pumps but no gas, and sold propane, dusty groceries, big silly knives and lighters and the like, rented out movies, and made pizza. As kids and teenagers we'd walk there for an ice cream. The ones on the highway were the same, but larger and usually had a tourist section with guidebooks and lots of bear figurines and punny t-shirts and the like. But groceries were always obtained at the Red Apple.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 6:00 AM on July 28, 2019


Nice to see all the extremely offensive racial slurs in this thread.
posted by ambrosen at 6:52 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


ambrosen, you should be more specific. I don't know if you're referring to "packies" in the US; if you are, you should know that it's short for "package* store," and does not in any way refer to the country-of-origin of the owners.

*called "packages" because the alcohol in question is packaged in such a way as to discourage consumption on the property; it's to take away and consume.
posted by cooker girl at 7:12 AM on July 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


I know that. But I would also like to make it clear that the word that sounds the same in British English is an extremely racist slur, and should literally never have been written once on this site.
posted by ambrosen at 7:28 AM on July 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


When I hear "bodega" in the Bay Area my first thought is that someone is talking about Bodega Bay (from a random article: "Bodega Bay is named for Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra. The name “Bodega” probably refers to an ancestor who worked in a wine cellar or warehouse, two meanings of the Spanish word"). This comment mentions that the word means warehouse in Spanish in South Texas and suggests that it only has the NYC meaning in Puerto Rican Spanish, though maybe that's changing. Here, I would have guessed that Spanish-speaking immigrants would say mercado.
posted by pinochiette at 7:49 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


Nthing that I too have never heard anyone from the Bay Area, including a multitude of Spanish-speakers, refer to a corner store as a bodega - corner store or mercado or occasionally convenience store; often 7/11 used as a generic. I did know NY transplants who said it, but the first time I heard it was in Half-Baked.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2019


[Folks, there is a word that is unrelated to a UK slur referring to liquor stores in the US (package store or "packie",) but the UK version is in fact a very nasty racial slur and everyone needs to be mindful of that and not use it casually. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:05 PM on July 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


They had their tobacco license revoked recently for selling to a minor, so chances are they will be disappearing soon.

Six-month suspension. They had to cut back their hours (with a suspended tobacco license, there are several other items you can't sell), but hopefully they'll get through it, and also stop selling cigarettes to NYU freshmen.
posted by praemunire at 12:29 PM on July 28, 2019


> In Paris they are known as Arabe du coin, or “Arab of the corner,” owing to the high percentage of North African ownership in that city. It does not translate any better in French than in English.

I laughed. It wasn't necessarily a good laugh but I laughed. This feels perfectly consistent with the language and culture that brought the world Asterix and his adventures with one broad ethic/cultural caricature after another.

I tend to use the word "convenience store" as a generic, or the name of the particular place. I *think* that's what I was saying when I grew up in New Orleans. It's been a long time.
posted by egypturnash at 1:18 PM on July 28, 2019


In metro Atlanta, GA, what it gets called depends on context, at least in my observation.

- Hey, can we stop at a convenience store on the way? I want to get a Coke.
- Oh, there's a QuikTrip, stop there. They have good slushies.
- I think there is a Circle K around the corner from here.

The only time I've heard bodega was from recent NY and NYC transplants. I'll hear mercado now and again, but that's because Atlanta has a huge Hispanic population so it's easy to find a store that has "mercado" in the name. Some of the ones I see look to be full-sized grocery stores, but a lot of them are of the convenience store variety.

Stores that sell alcohol are called either liquor stores or package stores. Calling one that "p" word that sounds like a racial slur would either get you confused looks or someone wondering why you were using a racial slur and what that had to do with a place to buy beer. I know I've heard party store, but it's been forever, and now I'd think you were referring to Party City.

I grew up on the Georgia side of the Georgia - South Carolina border, and at the time liquor stores in South Carolina were either called ABC stores (for Alcoholic Beverage Control board) or red dot stores due to the big red dot painted on the store or the sign.
posted by ralan at 3:23 PM on July 28, 2019


The world's largest bodega cat is painted on the side of the Liriano Bros. bodega on Washington Street in Boston's Roslindale neighborhood - painted a couple years ago by the Mayor's Mural Crew, which hires local high-school kids to paint murals on the sides of participating stores every summer.

As for spas, they've mostly died out in the Boston area, but the Palace Spa, on one of Boston's roughly 6,000 other Washington Streets, in Brighton, is still going strong. It used to be one of the few places around to get pretty much all the newspapers from Ireland - and had a large selection of Irish foods. Don't know if they still carry those, because I now live closer to West Roxbury, where you can fill all your Irish dietary needs (including frozen bangers) at a convenience store named Marino's (sure, why not?) which is on, no, not Washington Street, but Centre Street.
posted by adamg at 6:28 PM on July 28, 2019


Plaid Pantry

Do you mean Plaidys?

In Massachusetts, I always called Dairy Mart either Vice Mart or Dairy Fart.

I mostly lived in the Mission in San Francisco and they were always "bodegas."

I will avoid the two racist slurs that the kids in my American high school in England who drank used when they were going to buy beer.
posted by bendy at 9:29 PM on July 28, 2019


I know that. But I would also like to make it clear that the word that sounds the same in British English is an extremely racist slur, and should literally never have been written once on this site.

Much to my chargin when I was a recent transplant from New England into Old England and I asked people in the lab if they needed anything because I was heading over to the (slang for package store) and they heard that I was heading over to the (racist slang for someone from Pakistan). Was told that I wasn't allowed to say that and I didn't understand at first, and they didn't understand either until I googled the term and they saw how it was spelled and understood what I was trying to say and not what they thought they were hearing. Had to prune that part of speech quickly. Two nations divided by a common language indeed.
posted by koolkat at 3:54 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


Must be me. I'm a NYC transplant, even though it was long ago.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:55 AM on July 29, 2019


> Go further south towards Philadelphia, and it's almost always by proper brand name: "Wawa" or "Sev" for 7-11. Those two sort of dominate the region down there.

Wawa and Sev/Sevvies/7-11 dominate in terms of major chains, but they represent just a tiny number of the actual convenience stores in Philadelphia. They're really a different thing, in a different category, that are used differently than the typical neighborhood joints on the block.

The IMMEDIATE neighbors will refer to a store by the name on the sign*, but generically I mostly hear "corner store," "deli," and (less often) "bodega." If Italians run it, it's more likely to be called a deli regardless of what is sold.

* As long a the sign is legible, it often stays up through successive changes in ownership without reflecting shifts in ethnic demographics. This is also true of dry cleaners and shoe repair shops.
posted by desuetude at 8:03 AM on July 29, 2019


I'm in Michigan where we call them party stores. I was at a Bill Morrissey concert once, where he was complaining about this. "Why do you call it a party store, when you hafta bring your own party?"
posted by elizilla at 6:32 PM on July 29, 2019


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