Chile has a funny way of grouping all the like stores into one neighborhood, or one street. Such that if you ask five different people “where can I get a new gasket for my pressure cooker?” or “where can I get a new jug for my blender?” without blinking, people will say, “Tenderini.” And in fact, there are many kitchen repair-type-shops on Tenderini, a small, gated street downtown, between the Alameda and Moneda. I even found someone to fix my old coffee grinder, installing a totally McGyvered switch on the outside of the housing, which looks completely rasca (trashy) and I don’t care, because now I have coffee again, and I didn’t have to go to the mall or buy something new.
And the list of stuff-specific streets goes on:
Bikes? San Diego
Lamps? Merced or Rosas
Embroidered shirts? Rosas or Patronato
Garages for car-fixing or buying specific parts for specific cars? 10 de Julio
Made-to-order furniture or foam and fiberfill for furniture-making? Matta
Weaponry (guns, artillery, bullets and such)? Paseo Bulnes
It seemed like such a strange system to me when I first arrived here, as I was accustomed to one store per neighborhood or sector that could deal with those items. Wouldn’t it make sense, for example, to have a store that sells night tables right next to one that has lamps? Or furniture-making supplies near the fabric and upholstery? Chilean capitalism, I called it.
And if we didn’t have Chilean capitalism, then we wouldn’t get places like this, the Galpón de los Autos, a galpón (hangar/shed/storehouse, basically a flea-market type space with many locales inside) where they sell small items for cars, and (as it turns out), stovetops for car camping, which is what my friend and I were looking for. In truth, this is probably not the name of the galpón, but it’s what everyone calls it, and since in Spanish we normally say “what is it called?” for “what is its name?” The answer is, “se llama el galpón de los autos” (it is called…)
And while they sell camping stoves, which are sort of tangentially related to cars, in that you wouldn’t want to carry one in for hike-in camping (never mind the gas canister that goes with it), I could not for the life of me figure out how these items were related to motor vehicles, though they sure look pretty sitting there in that box.
I also purchased one of those two-flat-prongs-to-two-round-prongs adapters for my electrical items, since you can never have too many of these, what with the flat American plugs and the round Chilean outlets (careful to make sure the appliance can take 220 first, or risk the dreaded white smoke and untimely death of your appliance). I also spied but did not purchase this (pardon bad picture) which both makes me wonder, what is a low-class ding dong bell, and also, do people put doorbells on their cars or campers? No one likes an unannounced visitor, and if you didn’t have one, people would just bang their key against the gate (really, I learned this here, it’s how you tell people you’re there if their bell doesn’t work. Shouting out “alo” also works).
The place itself was very quiet on a weekday, and my friend and I were definitely the only women perusing the shops. People were polite, and confused (what are all these gringas doing in my galpón?), and generally quite helpful, though you can tell (as is often the case) that most of the stands were supplied by the same distributor from the very same container, since most of the products were approximately the same in all the stands, which makes the fact that they are all grouped together even stranger.
And when you leave, they thank you for visiting.
Galpón del los autos (or whatever it’s called), Chacabuco, near Estación Central, about two blocks in from the Alameda. They also sell tools and bits and bobs. And for what it’s worth, I now love these little shopping streets or agglomeration of stores that are almost the same, so if you’ve got some more that I should know about, send ’em in.
I have been to Tenderini for vacuum cleaner parts. A little señora, who must be at least 100 years old, always roots around in the various boxes and shelves until she comes up with what I need.
On another note, I’ve known some high class ding dongs in my life. And probably some low class ones too…..
nice ding-dong comment, Sally! And yes, it’s amazing what they have in boxes back there. The first place I went for the coffee grinder had the groggiest cat in the world. Must be an interesting place to work!
My husband calls Arturo Prat, south of U de Chile Metro, the “furniture street”. Tons of stores selling furniture (pretty much the same furniture in every store, though if you are patient you can find unusual (and very inexpensive) stuff too).
Where exactly are these lamp shopping areas (cross-streets)? I had no idea. And do they sell lamp shades too? I have never been able to find shades here. I live in hope, with a small but growing lamp graveyard in my bodega…
on Rosas, downtown, let’s say below Mercado Central, they have supplies, and on Merced there are complete lamps. I’m not sure if you can also get shades at Sodimac, seems like you should be able to. I am sadly lamp-lacking. And yes, Arturo Prat for the already-made furniture. I pass by there all the time (near the Mall Chino) just for the contact high. Kidding, mostly. Thanks for popping in, Evalyn, I don’t think I’ve seen you here before!
I’ve not done much shopping here and I’ve only been to Franklin once, but it must be the grand-daddy of them all!
indeed. I have bought a dictionary, a gas hose for my stove, my desk and beads. I’m sure whatever you want pretty much, you can buy it there!
So true! The list of clusters could go on for a long while..my favorite are all the leather shops on Victoria.
really? I had no idea. like rolls of it, or stuff made out of it? I knew there was still plenty more I could learn about Santiago.
It sounds more efficient. You won’t be tempted to buy accessories you don’t truly need. Go where you need to in order to get what you needed and move on. I like it.
En la calle Victoria se encuentran tiendas especializadas en calzado nacional. Muy buena calidad en relación al precio y es producto chileno, por lo que se ayuda al mercado nacional.
High class ding dong bell! That is great! Maybe it is what they use on the gas trucks as they pass slowly along the streets. Not sure if they are high class, but they are definitly loud.
Just looked closer, they are electric, probably not what they use on the trucks, oh well. 🙂
I also like how people clap outside when there’s no doorbell. Effective, and you can bask in their applause until you get around to answering their “Aloooo…!” Perhaps more common in rural parts.
I like the key against the gate, but clapping is good, too. Just has to be a sound you don’t normally hear in the campo. So no crowing, for example!
I’m a US citizen considering moving to Chile and importing quality hand tools and bicycle parts. I’ve just started reading your blog, but I’d like to know if you think there’s a demand for quality stuff? My research indicates that most stuff available in the markets is ultra-low-end. Is this your experience? Most of the stuff in these photos looks pretty, uh, “high class.”
There are importers who bring in what the Chilean market requires re: bikeparts. I personally often bring in my own
(derailleur, chain rings, etc) if possible, and people are generally impressed with the quality and price, so I don’t know what that means to you and your business. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not super qualified to answer this question. There is a long history of do-it-yourself and make-it-work here that would make most mechanics flinch, but it does generally seem to get the job done. Maybe if you wanted to gauge interest you could check out a bike forum. mfc.cl and bikemontt.cl come to mind, though they’re all in Spanish, and Chilean at that. If you were to post in English though, people would probably respond. hth!