There are businesses in the United States that would be recognized as being “on every corner”. Fast food pops in our heads, McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s to name a few. In fact, there are 15,000 McDonald’s locations in the US alone. Another recognizable name would be 7-Eleven. The mini mart giant is designed for customers that need a handful of necessary items but want to avoid large crowds and standing in line. They carry everything from food, toiletries and even clothes. Fast Fact: There are nearly twice as many 7-Elevens in the world as McDonald’s
The Dominican Republic prides itself on their Colmados. Best described, a Colmado is the Dominican Republic’s version of a mini mart. You can not drive too far without seeing a Colmado on both sides of the street. The most noticeable difference is that you don’t need much paperwork, a business background or special licenses to own and operate one. Most are family owned and built directly onto their homes.
At first, the small storefronts may not look like much but it’s the hospitality that makes the experience very special. If you can not find what you need, it’s common practice that an employee will ask you to wait a moment, jump on a scooter and find that item for you.
They also make sure to accommodate families that are in need. If you can’t afford a bag of ice then you can buy 10 cubes of ice. If you don’t have the money for a box of laundry detergent, then you can purchase a scoop of laundry detergent. 4North has also partnered with several Colmados to help feed communities through our food distribution center. For the last year, we have only purchased items from these small businesses to help them survive, and we plan on continuing that effort.
It’s been a complete joy to meet with the Colmados and connect with the families. They are extremely instrumental in keeping us safe, networking throughout the areas and even helping us practice our Spanish speaking skills.