Monday, May 16, 2011

The American Store in Rio de Janeiro?

I've always wanted to open one of those little markets with American/European grocery items and other random stuff.

It all started years ago when it was impossible to find even crap peanut butter in Rio. It only got worse when I was expected to use an old school can opener. You know the one that is a glorified knife with a handle on it. I almost took off a finger and definitely lost some skin! Thankfully civilized ones are now readily available.

I just imagined all the things I would stock on the shelves, at reasonable prices of course. At the time though, Rio wasn't the HUGE expat center that it is now. We expats are everywhere. Hell, I think the foreigners of Leblon have taken over that neighborhood like Brazilians did Orkut.

So now I have the demand but I don't have the store. But here's the real tricky part, what would I stock? With the influx of foreigners there has been a decent increase in foreign products. You can even find horribly expensive large marshmallows if you are willing to put in an effort. Dude, Lojas Americanas has a box of candy that includes the ever popular Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. I'm not even sure if I have an angle in the marketplace anymore.

None-the-less, I can still think of a few items I would want. For example: Quality teas, trash bags, Lays Potato chips, Lawrys seasoning, Triscuits, Carpet cleaner solution (and the handheld machines), real ice cream that does not cost R$22, and assorted candies.

What would you request that I stock on my shelves? 


  1. Yay yay yay for taco seasoning. I was able to find it online, but like f*** em I'm not paying r$5+ for it, I'd rather make my own. It's not even a good brand, but whatever. I can find tortillas everywhere though, and it's kind fun 'cause I love to fill them with cheese and avocado.
    Things have gotten (much more) expensive in Brasil since I left. Total dislike. And what the hell happen to jam/jelly, it used to be 5 reais tops, now it's like 20. I could cry.

  2. I can't talk about American items very well but here some things I really miss in my corner of the world: no. 1 is real bread, the type you can buy in the bakery around the corner. But I doubt that's going to work in Rio, it's probably as humid as in our place. No. 2 would be the good old delicious chocolate from my home country. And no. 3 would be cheese. Any kind except the sliced or processed one.
    And after you've set it up, give me a shout and I quickly fly over ;-)

  3. Mommy's: Actually we do have fresh bread around every corner!

    Samia: The jam prices also make me cry! It's really sad!

  4. I would add Bounty's and dish detergent to that list. As a Brazilian living in the US, these are by far my two favorite American household products. The Brazilian versions are crap! Detergent in Brazil is just like water, and even after using half a bottle, the pots and pans still feel greasy :( And there's nothing even CLOSE to Bounty paper towels in Brazil. I LOVE how they absorb everything!!!
    Oh, and I'd also add a Swifter and the Swifter pads to that store. Nothing like static to pick up dust :)

  5. Helen, when you said swifter my heart started beating super fast. I forgot about it and I love it! I would be great to have here! I also agree about bounty. The paper towels suck balls down here!

  6. @Helen-I just made an unexpected business trip to N. America and my only things on my "must buy" list were a skincare set and DISH DETERGENT, besides being the lowest possible quality it also gives me a skin infection that peels off my first layer of skin under my wedding ring! Two weeks of Dawn with Olay for Hands and I'm cured. I'd definitely like to take it upon myself to apply for a cleaning product stocking job at your store: Swiffer Wet Jet, Clorox Wipes, Scrubbing Bubbles shower spray...I could go on for hours!

    PS: Folks, jam is soooo easy to make. I participated in a blogger jam exchange while in the US--maybe we can plan an expat blogger jam exchange in Rio/Brazil...I'd love to get my hands on Mallory or Jim's creations!

    Facebook me, I can organize if you like =)

  7. Rachel,

    I am not sure which of these products are available in Brazil, but these are the ones I would miss if I couldn't find:

    -Good quality Paper Towels ( Yes, Brazilian ones SUCK big time and I don't get it, they are made by the same freaking American companies down there!!! )
    -non-stick aluminum foil.
    -Splashless Clorox Bleach ( best way to avoid Clorox accidents ).
    -Dawn detergent with bleach ( Doesn't let your scotch brite stink up)
    -Scrubbing Bubbles ( all versions of it, including the hands free ones for the shower!! )
    -Windex ( Vinegar scented )
    -Green Ziploc bags ( the ones that makes veggies and fruits less longer )


  8. Rachel - we need to find an investor, and a couple mules who will fly to and fro and smuggle essentials in without the tax mark-up. Frumpy grandmas or baby daddy guys holding a fidgeting infant- not the target profile among smugglers.

    Between the two of us (and your legions online) we could stock that store with crazy sh*t and redefine the impulse buy for expats.

    Heck - you could specialize in baby items and call it a day (call it a fortune).

    How about vaccuum packed seafood. (Is that so hard to figure out?)

    But we need a way around the import tax thing...

    I could bring my Cuisinart and make peanut butter all day...

  9. -Root Beer
    -Cheese and Crackers
    -Sour Cream
    -Old Bay
    -A beautiful Southern belle plus all the ingredients for her to fix me some chicken fried steak (in case your initial business budget does not allow for both items then the chicken fried steak).

  10. Comet! You remember that all-purpose cleaning product? Is it even sold in the US anymore? I love it.

  11. Ray, I am sad to say that I didn't even know those kind of ziplocks exist! I'm so requesting some in my next box from home!

    Jim, you are an evil genius! And you can hide a lot in a diaper bag...

    Gritty, I miss chicken fried steak. If you find that southern belle can she make me some too?

    Danielle, I freaking make love to comet I love it so much! Such a good cleaner...

    TLC, I want in on this!

  12. Rachel se você abrisse a loja ia ser muito legal! Acho que se você chegasse a abrir a loja não iria fazer sucesso só entre os expat, mas também entre os cariocas, já que vocês dizem que os produtos dos U.S tem uma qualidade bem melhor os produtos brasileiros, e se houvesse vendas on-line, eu iria comprar sempre =)

  13. Danielle, Rachel,

    There is a Brazilian version of "Comet", it's called "Sapolio", it even smells the same ;)


    The "green" Ziploc is really new, we have only seen in one store yet, I couldn't find it at the Target the last time we were there...
    My neighbor told me they are having a supply problem because these puppies were flying off the shelves... :) and they work dam good too!


  14. Danielle,

    I just remembered, there is a new "Soft Scrub" spray that leaves "Comet" biting the dust ;)

  15. LOVE these stores! And I always end up buying stuff that I never would actually buy in the States ;-)

  16. Yes on the Swifters! No rag/squeedgy cleaning for me. I thougth about bringing one for my MIL on one of our trips, but when I explained what it was to her, she said no thank you, she'd stick to what she knew. Her loss!

    -sunblock that's 50 or higher
    -cake mix
    -artichoke hearts

  17. I'm so hunting down and importing in green ziplocks! And I know soft scrub is good but I love the graininess of Comet.

    Sara - me too! I don't have anything American or European but there are the Japanese ones. I buy the randomest things there.

    LOL- I always bring back sunscreen!

  18. It's funny because if I ever move back to Rio I would consider the possibility of opening a shop like this. Worry not, as it would be mainly to cater for the british expats and their bizarre fondness for things like Marmite and prawn cocktail crisps. :) If all fails, I'd volunter to be a mule.

    Buttermilk would be a God send for many people who are always having to improvise in order to follow recipes found on their favorite international food blogs. Lemon curd, too. And ouch, 20 reais for jam/jelly? Good grief, it must be a posh import, surely? If not, I better learn how to make my own there.

    As for the can opener, it's funny to see how we get used to our own things. I cannot operate (and have indeed cut myself while trying) the american/european version. Never had any problem with the glorified knife (lol), which I think is simpler, faster and more efficient. Even the english husband now prefers them. :)

  19. I also sign myself up as a mule. Myself and my children. Cute little kids are great smugglers of non-politically incorrect goods. I would totally bring buttermilk!

  20. Stock requests:
    Cheddar cheese. REAL cheddar cheese, not queijo prato with cheddar-like flavoring (or the even worse oil-based processed cheese-like food product that was dyed orange and cut into squares).
    Bagels. (we've had this convo already).
    1000 thread-count sheets that don't cost a fortune.
    Yes, the Swiffer, both wet and dry versions.
    FRESH pasteurized milk that doesn't come in a box, and is not full of "stabilizers" (aka preservatives).
    Yogurt that is not really expensive and soupy.
    American-style pizza sauce and / or pizza spice that can be added to tomato paste and water to make REAL pizza sauce, not the barely-spiced weak tomato sauce they call pizza sauce here.
    A good dark beer that is not sweet as candy and does not cost R$15-30 a bottle.
    Oh there is so much more....