I have always loved stories about how small businesses started out. I recently read about the growth of the popsicle (paleta) industry that started out as a mom and pop shop in Tocumbo, Michoacan. Today there are over 15000 off-shoots across Mexico and the U.S. There is something so honest about doing business with someone who is earning for themselves. Living in Huatulco, it is easy to conduct the daily business of buying food and goods and deal mostly with small businesses. By contrast, when procuring groceries in Canada or the US, it is very difficult to do so without shopping at corporate-owned businesses.
I got a flat tire a few weeks ago, and I went to see Pepe, a vulcanizador (tire guy) who travels each day from Pochutla to open his small tire repair shop in La Crucecita. He removed the flat tire, took it to his shop and repaired it within 20 minutes. While he worked, we spoke about how much he enjoyed his work and how proud he was that his business has provided for his family and sent his two sons to school.
People are always asking me if I have seen a lot of changes in my almost twenty years in this country. I usually shrug and say that the changes have been so gradual that I haven’t noticed too many. However, lately the changes have been more noticeable. First, the weather this year has been unusually hot and dry- see Julie Etra’s article on weather phenomena on page 16. Including a photo of the crazy tornado-like water spout that was visible in the waters off Mazunte on August 13th.
Second, the way people shop has changed. It was less than ten years ago that Super Che opened in Huatulco, and I worried for the smaller local grocers and vendors. In the past few years, we have seen the opening of several Oxxos, Coppel and Soriana. This month there were protesters on the main boulevard as builders started to cut down a large Guanacastle tree in front of CFE to make way for the new Auto-Zone store being built beside it. A one-stop shop for all things to do with cars. The emerging of these corporate stores signifies that the economy here is growing and this season tourism was up with nationals and foreign visitors.
Despite all this growth, life in Huatulco is still leagues away from the commercial zoo that many comparably sized towns are in the US or Canada. Small businesses still seem to be thriving, and vendors with fresh produce, flowers, fish, and tortillas are still setting up on every street corner. However sometimes I find myself wondering how long it will last. I only hope ten years from now I won’t find Pepe working at Auto-Zone.