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TO MARCH 6, 2000
As a kid I’d always stop by the corner store for Now and Laters and Swedish Fish. Of course, in New York we didn’t call them corner stores. Latino proprietor or not, they were “bodegas.” There was a rumor that if you asked for “Swedish Fish” in the right bodega, you’s get a dime bag. But I didn’t care about that back then; I was just glad to have a handy place to get change for the bus. The National Building Museum’s new exhibit, “The Corner Store,” focuses on the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrant shop owners and the corner store as a uniquely urban convenience. (A photograph of Paganucci Grocery and Market in Galveston, Texas, by Betty Tichich is pictured.) It’s not something you think about when you’re freezing your head off in that glass cabinet seeking out the last kiwi-strawberry Snapple, but the corner store, as the exhibit demonstrates, is the center for commerce and social activity in many city neighborhoods. A good bodega can last you a lifetime: First it’s candy and quarter waters. As a student, you stop in for condoms and 40s. After settling into workaday life, you still come in for coffee and a newspaper. Then, as life begins to stress you out—and if your corner store is on top of its game—you come in for “Swedish Fish” again. On view from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, to Monday, March 6, 2000, at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $3 (suggested donation). (202) 272-2448. (Neil Drumming)