Sunday, February 9, 2014

Loreto Bay General Store - a family affair!

Regular readers of this Blog may recall a couple of earlier postings about a small Convenience/Grocery store in Loreto Bay a few years ago, ), and more recently a produce store that operated in the community one Season (  However, following the closing of both stores by last Season, it has been almost a year since we have had access to a food store within Loreto Bay.  That changed about a month ago with the opening of The Loreto Bay General Store.

Jeff and Claudia have lived in the Community for about eighteen months with their 3 school aged children, and without a local store for about half of that time (meaning a round trip to Loreto 15 km each way for a loaf of bread or a jug of milk) they were acutely aware of the need for local shopping.  Because Claudia comes  from Toluca on the mainland, which is the center of the cut flower industry in Mexico, she was originally thinking of opening a flower shop.  But with the economics of staffing and overhead they soon started to think on a larger scale and the concept for The General Store began to develop.

After several months of planning late last year, the store opened just after New Years with small selection of basics, from which their inventory continues to have grown as they establish more suppliers and determine what their Loreto Bay clientele want.  To begin with Jeff started with the basics that were everyday staples that his family regularly used, but in response to the early feedback (no pun intended) from customers he is developing a niche market for organic, gluten free, vegetarian and even vegan foods. 

This is perhaps not surprising, given that these types of products are hard to impossible to find in the regular food stores in Loreto, and often have to be imported from the US.  Jeff has also observed that the customers who want these specialty products are not as price conscious about them because they are used to paying a premium for them "back home" and so expect to pay more for them here. 

In my own experience, living here over the past 6 or 7 years, I do not pay a lot of attention to the prices for my regular groceries for a combination of reasons, depending on where you shop often the prices are not posted, and if they are, then you have to convert from pesos to dollars to make a comparison. Also, in most cases basic foods here are relatively cheap by North American standards and the more exotic imported specialties which are more expensive are an indulgence that I am prepared to pay for.  One example that comes to mind is a roasting chicken, when I return to Canada it takes me a while to get used paying up to the $10.00 or $12.00 price for one in a Supermarket there - after only spending about $5.00 for one here in the Baja.

Another good source of business that Jeff has found since opening the store is the large numbers of workers here in Loreto Bay who are usually his first customers in the morning buying coffee and breakfast snacks and cold drinks during the day, including of course the ubiquitous Coca Cola.  Mexico has the highest per capita consumption of Coke in the world, and a two or three liter bottle is not an unusual daily ration for a typical worker here!  

Jeff's wife Claudia receives regular shipments of cut flowers on Thursdays by air from the mainland and assembles arrangements to order for delivery in Loreto Bay, and then she usually prepares the rest of the week's shipment into other displays that are for sale in the store.  It is important for me to point out how unique it is to have access to fresh cut flowers here in a relatively remote place like Loreto.  Although I have often said that living in Loreto Bay is like living in the middle of a garden, as we are surrounded by acres of beautifully manicured plantings along the pathways and courtyards that separate our homes - having a beautiful display of cultivated flowers in your home here is a luxury that was previously hard to find. 

Currently, in addition to a growing selection of packaged foods, several types of wine and a variety of liquor, with of course beer and other cold drinks and dairy products, a small stock of regular and organic fruits and vegetables, a rack of packaged breads, and a freezer of ice cream novelties, The General Store also has a small "transportation department" with a brand new 4 passenger electric golf cart and a pair of electric scooters available for rent.  Aside from being a lot of fun to drive around, these vehicles can provide an important option, particularly to renters or Homeowners with visitors who have mobility issues.  With all of our gas powered vehicle parking limited to the Paseo (or main street that bisects the Development) with battery power the cart and scooters can be used anywhere on the miles of pathways in Loreto Bay.

In the near future, Jeff promises that he will soon be adding a freezer with fish filets and other seafood, steaks, and packaged meats, an expanded selection of dairy products including cheeses and more shelving for fresh produce.  In addition to a display counter for floral arrangements there will be refrigerated storage for cut flowers and an expanded gift and souvenir selection with some more Loreto Bay wearables and other products.

In addition to the cash and carry business, The General Store is set up for online shopping as well.  There is a website for the store: where, in addition to the products they have in stock, they can provide a shopping service for any foods available in the town of Loreto for a flat fee of $12 including delivery to your Loreto Bay home.  This should be a popular service particularly for those short term residents who do not have access to a vehicle and have to pay double that amount for a taxi one way into town for shopping.

Flowers can be ordered online at with delivery to a Loreto Bay home included, making it now possible for friends and family of people spending the winter in Loreto Bay to order a sure to be appreciated gift from anywhere in the world and have that special floral arrangement delivered to a loved one at their home here - World Wide Web indeed!

For Jeff and Claudia The General Store is a family affair.  Jeff usually starts his day opening the store in the morning with their employee Leilani, and then he puts in his regular work day as Director of the Homex operations here.  Claudia takes daughters Paula, Megan and Madeline into town for school in the mornings and then often spends most of the middle of the day at the store or running errands. Jeff closes the store after his "day job" and so the week goes until Sundays, which is "family day" at the store when they and the kids all spend the day there together.

So it is with thanks to this hard working family, who are making a sizable investment of time and treasure, to bring all of us who live here the convenience of a neighborhood store with a combination of staple foods, hard to find imports and the luxury of fresh flowers to beautify our homes.  I trust that they will receive the custom and support of the community they are making this important contribution to "Living Loreto"!