Pop quiz: what do you call the place that sells a wide variety of convenient goods, fast food, and sometimes gasoline? Your answer may depend on where you live. While most of us know these amazing little pieces of heaven as convenience stores (or c-stores for short), calling it that in other parts of the world may earn you a puzzled or bemused expression from those around you. If you’ve ever wondered about what convenience stores are like in other countries, you’ve come to the right place!
How many convenience stores are situated on corners? Turns out quite a few – so many that they’re often referred to as “corner stores” in the UK and in parts of the US. The moniker may not be solely given on location – corner stores may also refer to their anonymity or even the phrase “to corner the market” (and we couldn’t argue with all those flavors of fountain soda – or is it pop?). Other names you may hear in predominately English-speaking countries include mini-mart, mini market, and superette.
Head over to London town, and you may hear the locals saying that they need to nip over to an offy, or an “off-license” store. Some stores in London have licenses to sell alcohol amongst other items, which gives them their unique name. Across the pond, offy shops often fill the role of your everyday convenience store – just with alcohol included!
C-stores do sell a huge array of items, so why not call it a variety store? The people living in Toronto and its many smaller surrounding cities do just that. Unlike the offy stores in London, though, Toronto’s variety stores don’t have the ability to sell beer or other alcoholic beverages.
Oh, and here’s another fun fact from Manitoba. Did you know that the highest number of Slurpees is sold in Winnipeg? The city has even been given the name of the “Slurpee Capital of the World” for this astonishing achievement!
Go east in the Great White North to Quebéc and you’ll hear c-stores called “dépanneur” or “dep” for short. This word comes from the French word dépanner, which literally means “troubleshooter” or “to help someone out,” which we think is the perfect name for c-stores. The most popular dep in cities like Montréal and Quebéc City is called Couche-Tard, which translates to “night owl.”
If you’ve visited New York City, Cuba, Puerto Rico, or even parts of South America, you might have heard c-stores in the area coined as bodegas. In the 1940s when immigrants from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic arrived in the Big Apple, they began using the term “bodega” to describe stores, which they began to own and work in. In time the city adopted the word and overall, it stuck.
South of the border in Mexico, you will encounter “tiendas” (meaning “stores”), which act similarly to the c-stores you find in the U.S. “Misceláneas,” literally meaning “a place in which miscellaneous items are sold,” are typically smaller, family-owned stores found in the rural areas of central and southern Mexico. While they do offer a more limited selection, they also serve as a meeting space for neighborhoods to catch each other up on the local news, much like a café or bar, and sell homemade snacks that the owners make!
Speaking of true convenience, the Japanese adopted the concept of the c-store and turned it into an entirely new entity. Their independent c-stores – called “konbini” – do a little bit of everything, making them a one-stop shop. Need to pay bills? Want to buy concert tickets or check out magazines and manga? Looking for a unique and delicious snack? Head to the konbini for just about anything you need!
Finally, head to Australia and you might need to make a stop at a service station to grab some essentials, get a carwash, and fill up on a little bit of petrol (a.k.a. gasoline). While their c-stores are similar to ours, there’s one type of convenience store that, while once prevalent, is starting to fade away – the milk bar. Created as a twist on the American malt shop, the milk bar had been the popular, non-alcoholic place for people to gather. As time progressed, milk bars began selling items and became similar to c-stores. However, with a change in consumer habits, milk bars are beginning to disappear.
No matter what you call a store that sells a variety of items (and sometimes gasoline), you’ll know it when you see it – and you know what you can expect from it. If you want to make your convenience store head and shoulders above others, you’ll need to ensure that yours is stocked to fulfill your customers’ needs. Should you need gasoline or diesel, rely on Home Service Oil to deliver what you need! Call us at 1-800-467-5044 or visit us at www.hsoil.com to get started.