Mexico – The Low Down Adventure
Mom-and-pop shops are dope. They stock the goods I want. It seems like a smart strategy to hit up big office supply stores to source our goods - their inventory is large both in size and variety. But they fail to deliver. The big shops mostly stock the usual suspects that are found all over the world. They often don’t stock goods that are designed and manufactured locally.
Mexico was on my list cause it’s common to find pencils and notepads that are manufactured there. What I didn’t realize? Most of the Mexican companies are owned by or produce for larger global companies. Four shops deep, and all I could find were Bic pens and Papermate pencils that were made in Mexico. Seriously??
The further I walked out of the town center, the more I saw restaurants with only three tables, neighborhood corner shops carrying a little bit of everything, and people wondering if I was lost. I kept walking until I saw a shop with their name, phone number, and a list of items they sold hand-painted on the storefront.
The chronic archivist in me melted when I found notebooks with a designated header box. I wanted them badly and started counting stacks of notebooks. When there were no more to count, the pop of the shop took off and returned 20 minutes later with boxes of more notebooks. BOOM!
Next up – their display case of pens and pencils. The mom showed me a variety but none fit the bill. As a last resort, she searched in a ‘hidden’ drawer and pulled out a brown triangular pencil stamped with ‘México’! I want! I want! She offered as many as she had and then showed me the same pencil in yellow. I bought them all. They’re Berol, yes—a former-UK now-US owned company—but as the mom told me, no longer produced. And they most definitely fit the bill of locally sourced—taken out of a secret stash? I think so.
Their daughter showed suggestions for the mystery item – staplers (too heavy), rulers (too long), erasers (too soon)… Then the mom waved me behind the counter and instructed me to browse the shelves. Instantly found the perfect mystery item – phat packs of labels! RAH’s got mad love for stickers, and I was stoked that the labels are simple and insanely functional.
Not sure what I loved more about that shop – finding all the goods for our Mexico Kit, or meeting a super sweet family that had no clue why I wanted all the goods but helped me anyway. Forget Disneyland – mom and pop shops are the happiest place on earth.