Mini Tienda Heidy in Puerto Lopez

Tiendas – Puerto Lopez, Ecuador’s neighborhood stores #AtoZChallenge

Mini Tienda Heidy, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Neighborhood tiendas (stores) are part of the fabric of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. They supplement larger grocery stores by stocking single rolls of toilet paper, small containers of milk, yogurt, ice cream, cooking oils, sugar, and other daily essentials.

Tiendas have daily necessities

Let’s say you are seven years old and helping your siblings fix a bike in front of your home. Your mom is making dinner and realizes she is out of milk. She calls to you, hands you money and sends you to get milk.


Puerto Lopez street
Tienda door visible on far left


Two tiendas are about a minute from your house, one in each direction.

  1. The tienda uphill (left edge of above photo) has a locked door with bars you can stick your arms and legs through. The bars allow the owners to remain open while free to be elsewhere in the house. If you choose this tienda, you call out “Hola! Hola!” and wait for someone to wait on you.
  2. The tienda downhill has a wide open door. A family member in this home is always in the store. Sometimes it is the 12 year old daughter, sometimes the 14 year old son but occasionally the whole family is sitting at the plastic table and chairs in front of their multi-use house.

You select the first since your favorite cousin lives there. After buying milk from your cousin, you run home.


Tiendas have Dessert


After dinner, you pick up your cousin and together run to the other tienda for their homemade coconut ice cream on a stick. Ice cream melting, you head to the fútbol field and join your friends practicing penalty kicks.

2018 A to Z Challenge - T

Do you have neighborhood stores? How old were you when you first were allowed to shop on your own?


Neighborhood Tiendas, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador Pinterest



A look back

Last year, I wrote Tide Pools in Puerto Lopez.

I am a US Expat in Ecuador. I grew up on a Minnesota farm, worked in IT in California's Silicon Valley, then moved to a coastal Ecuador fishing village. My goal is to share Ecuador with you, one snippet at a time. Topics include attractions, compassion, ecotourism, Ecuador products, everyday Ecuador, and flora and fauna. Please let me know what you would like to read more about!


    • Emily Bloomquist

      They are fantastic, Nila! I did not have them in most places I lived in the US. We drove to stores since there were not any within a few minutes walking distance. Thanks very much!

  • Eva A.

    I love your pictures. Again, so similar to what I see in Morocco. But here there are no bars, even when sometimes the owners aren't in the shop. Robbery isn't the big problem here, really! Sometimes, during praying times, the owners just cross a broom in the door, and that means "It's closed".

    First time I went to buy, as you described? I guess I was about four or five. It was quite different some years ago, wasn't it?

    • Emily Bloomquist

      I must add Morocco to my growing list of places to visit, Eva! It sounds wonderful every time you talk about it. Love the broom indicating the store is closed.

      You were so young! That is about the youngest I see here running to the store for parents, too.

  • Lisa

    We don't have a neighborhood store but I think it would be wonderful. When in Israel, I was able to shop at a couple of stores like this within easy walking distance of our hotel.

  • Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Emily – love the story and your tiendas … I could be miles away from any shop here – so am fortunate they're about 2 miles max … one centre, one small set up with a grocery greens shop and good ice-cream. Like Keith about 9 or 10 … cheers Hilary

    • Emily Bloomquist

      Oooo good ice cream is nice to have nearby, Hilary. When I was writing this, I was thinking you were probably a bit far from a neighborhood store now. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Emily Bloomquist

      Supermarkets are driving out the mom and pop stores all over. In many "communities" people hardly know their own neighbors anymore. I hope it takes a long time to happen here. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Iain!

  • Arlee Bird

    I've seen the kinds of little markets that you're talking about. Even around where I live there are countless little markets mostly in the heavily Hispanic areas. Then of course everywhere in the U.S. you find the more modern and corporate equivalents in convenience stores. I loved little markets like these when I was a kid buying candy and snacks.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • Emily Bloomquist

      They are all over neighborhoods in Guayaquil, too, which I imagine is where you saw them, Arlee. When I first saw them in LA's predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, I thought they were a pretty cool idea. It was the first time I had seen them. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Heather Erickson

    My cousin used to give my sister and me a couple of dollars to get candy from the Tom Thumb store. I don't even know if they still exist. We walked a long distance for those sweets. "Tienda" is one of my favorite words in Spanish. It's just so much fun to say.
    Heather Erickson Author Writer Speaker

  • Jz

    There aren't any stores in town now but there was a little tienda-like place when I was a kid… and they had PENNY CANDY!!! I think I was allowed to walk there with my friends (and my pennies) when I was about 8.
    Pixie Stix, fireballs, Pez, Turkish Taffy, wax lips… *oh my yes*

  • Nancy Adkins

    Yes we have them here in Hawaii. In fact my nextdoor neighbors own the one in our little town. Sadly they are a dying breed of grocery story. They tend to be a very expensive way to buy anything and are used only for emergencies, tourists, and Lunch and snack foods. I would love some of that Coconut Icecream!

    • Emily Bloomquist

      They are dying in many parts of the world. I am glad it is not happening in Puerto Lopez yet.

      Oh how sweet that your neighbors have one. The coconut ice cream is DELICIOUS! I love it. You could probably find a recipe and some fresh coconuts there and start a little side business…
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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