(Note: this is on the general topics board because I'm not recommending a place, but commenting on a phenomenon.)
Who knew? The open 24/7/365 store around the corner from me has always seemed like a typical New York City corner store/bodega. Its selling space is no more than 500 square feet, including the outdoor section with fruit and flowers. It's owned and run by folks who are either Chinese or ethnic Chinese Korean immigrants, and it has the usual components--small deli counter, some fresh produce, lots of beverages and snack foods. It doesn't cater to any particular ethnic group, as there's no particular cultural presence in the neighborhood. Most customers seem to be buying beer, soda, cigarettes, snacks, etc. Like them, I run in for quarts of milk, fruit, ice cream, or the Sunday paper.
The other day, however, I went in loking for maple syrup, and discovered, in their one small canned goods and condiments isle, a veritable cornucopia of worthwhile comestibles. Beyond the Vienna sausages, Spam, and Campbell's soup, I found not only two brands of pure maple syrup, but also clover, buckwheat, orange blossom, alfalfa, sage, and wildflower honeys (all from the same company); tahini; three brands of hot sauce; French sea salt, coconut milk; gefilte fish; Italian oil-packed sundried tomatoes; canned lychees; four brands each of commercial extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar; four kinds of soba; bean threads and rice threads; and a whole variety of Chinese, Japanes, and Vietnamese condiments. There are also countless other pantry staples. Given the nature of most of their business, I'm not too confident about turnover of all this stuff, but really I was pretty flabbergasted at the variety. I mean, I would be hard-pressed to find tahini or more than two varieties of honey at the large regular supermarkets in my neighborhood, or as many kinds of organic canned goods. It's ironic that I've explored pretty thoroughly most of the food shops in my neighborhood, but--up till now--never the corner store...
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