La Bodega, a Venezuelan corner of Trinidad
Bell Peppers Supermarket of Balmain, Couva, has expanded its range of offerings with the opening of La Bodega, a corner of the supermarket dedicated to the sale of products from Venezuela.
One of the main reasons why Venezuelans are leaving their country is because of the lack of food, and yet the truth is, the main Venezuelan food brands are still being produced.
La Bodega seeks to offer Venezuelans here their traditional foods, while locals get the opportunity to taste the quality of these products.
Andrew Singh, owner of Bell Peppers Supermarket at Temple Road, Couva, told Newsday the idea of expanding the business to Venezuelan products was inspired by the presence of thousands of refugees.
“The Bell Peppers Supermarket's La Bodega is a piece of home for every Latino living in TT,” Singh said.
After analysing the market, and being told about their traditions by some of his Venezuelan workers, Singh thought of investing in the proposal and created a spot in the supermarket that brings nostalgia to Venezuelans here.
"We decided to expand our spaces, enable an exclusive area to display Venezuelan products, not only for them, but also so that locals know what these products are," he said.
He first contacted distributors within Venezuela to find out prices, then shipping companies, and then began importing his first stocks.
In mid-February the first assortment of Venezuelan food products arrived. Cornflour, wheat flour, sauces for burgers and hot dogs, canned goods, charcuterie, non-alcoholic drinks and especially snacks were the first options he offered customers.
"There was great acceptance by the Venezuelan community. The first week, almost everything we brought in was sold.”
Given the results, La Bodega expanded its products range by the second shipment. Today, La Bodega also offers powdered milk, rice, oil and canned seafood
, one of the most sought-after products by the Latino community.
One customer, Marisela Perdomo, said, “It is a very good idea of this supermarket to bring quality Venezuelan products. That reminds us of our traditions and fills us with nostalgia. Arriving at La Bodega and seeing the shelves full of Venezuelan products made me happy, it made me feel at home.”
She came from Chaguanas just to buy corn sauce, margarine and powdered chicha, a sweet drink prepared with milk, that is a refreshing traditional food item in Venezuela.
Singh said La Bodega has also caught the attention of locals. Most customers buy chocolates, cookies and other snacks.
Ann Marie Radhay, a regular customer, was amazed at the wide variety of Venezuelan groceries.
“It's good to try something different, get to know some of the Venezuelan traditions and share quality foreign chocolate,” she said.
Singh said imports are brought in once a month.
“We hope to bring La Bodega to our branches in Arima, San Fernando and Tobago, in the medium term, due to the great acceptance it has had,” he said.
"La Bodega, a Venezuelan corner of Trinidad"