Shop local, Costa Rica: but also, shop close

My post today on shopping local in Costa Rica comes from a surprising source: the beverage giants Coca-Cola and Florida Ice & Farm.

A few initiatives I’ve noticed lately have reminded me that there are two parts of being a responsible consumer right now. One is shopping for products that are locally produced on a small scale. The other is shopping at small, local outlets, because even when the things you’re buying are from big companies, you’re supporting a family during an economic crisis. In other words, there’s #comprelocal, and there’s #comprecerca.

La Pulpería Digital is a platform from Florida Ice & Farm, or FIFCO, that can, if you grant it your location, help you buy online from pulperías (Costa Rica’s corner stores) near you. Pulperías must be FIFCO clients to use the platform, but I can’t imagine one that isn’t, and it seems like a great way to source your basic products from small shops rather than supermarkets. I’d love to have a standing servicio express order long into the future to meet my family’s bean and beer needs. These being, of course, some of the most important needs there are.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has pumped some advertising dollars into promoting the neighborhood stores that sell their products (again, pretty much all of them). From a post on their blog, I learned that family groceries make up 40% of food sales in Latin America – and as they point out, small stores, especially those where you order from a counter or window, are really ideally suited for today’s socially-distanced times.

It’s exciting to see mammoth companies and tiny family enterprises alike finding new ways to reach customers, because let’s face it: for our economies to survive, people will need to be able to buy Imperial beer from a local pulpería, and organic goat cheese from a rural collective, and all-natural skincare products from a microbusiness, and a pound of regular ol’ potatoes from the local farmer’s market. All online.

What’s springing up in your neighborhood?

(The featured image is “Pulpería La Estrella,” by Luz Delgado, featuring a corner store in San Juan de Tibás, San José. This image and many others can be found here. More in a future post!)

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or FacebookIf you want to learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section, updated regularly – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.

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