A colmado is a small local convenience store you will find in every neighborhood in the Dominican Republic. I have read there are over 50,000 in the country but I would guess much higher. In the neighborhood I live in there are six within 200 meters. But…they are much more than a local convenience store. They are a central part of the community. Each one has its own character. Often a gathering place, music can be heard and dominoes played. Everybody knows everyone well. As a suburban boy from the Seattle area I find them fascinating.
I am fortunate in that my father in law (photos to follow) operates a Colmado just below our living quarters. What is sold there? A little bit of everything. Rice, detergent, salt, butter and sugar in bulk but typically small quantities. One can purchase bread, a variety of vegetables, eggs and fresh chicken from the local market. There are small tubes of clorox, oil, vinegar and soap cleaning. There are a variety of snacks, sweets and beverages. One of the unique beverages is water sold in bags (photos to follow), often frozen. These can be used to refrigerate items or to drink.
From early in the morning until the early evening, neighbors will come by for a little of this or a little of that. Often a loud greeting will be heard. “Pirulu!” (My father in law’s nickname), or “Ma – Co!”…another nickname. Small children who can barely see over the counter enter with a coin or two. If no one is present, customers will call out a name or click the coins on the counter.
Pirulu also designs and makes sandals and shoes from scratch which makes this colmado unique. Every morning he heads off to the local market and other stores to stock up his inventory. Of course he does this on a motorcycle, arriving back home with bags and supplies balanced between his legs.
There is an aloe vera plant above the doorway that keeps away bad spirits