Retail Evolution

Having been a part of the Spacesmith family for about 2.5 years now has given me the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the realm of retail, specificially the world of Hermès of Paris. I have been working almost exclusively on Hermès construction projects since I started and it's been an interesting adventure getting to understand the intricate details of high end shopping.

This experience allows me to reflect back on the vast extremes of retail design, organization, and its evolution in other countries. I thought it would be interesting to compare examples of retail sales in a place that is close to my heart, the small town of Ibarra, Michoacan, located fairly close to Guadalajara, Mexico.

My mother immigrated from a small farming village known best for its production of vegetables including avacados, tomatoes, corn, and the list goes on. The population of Ibarra has grown incredibly in the last 60 years giving way to a larger demand for vegetables, goods, and services.

Economic Relationship to Neighboring Towns

A very brief history:

After the Mexican Revolution, land in Mexico, which was once owned by a single elite ruling class, was divided into large lots and given to the people as part of the deal to owners. Land was later illegally subdivided and sold. Irregular settlements like Ibarra were born all over Mexico. Born as a satellite city to Guadalajara and Mexico City, Ibarra is located directly adjacent to Lake Chapala on inexpensive wetland territory. Remotely located, people had little to no financial resources for travel and access to basic necessities. Until a decade ago the town was still informal with little access to running water or electricity. In 2007, the state of Michoacan began to formalize the land by removing dirt roads and replacing them with cement. Running water and sewage for toilets was brought to each home a few years prior. 

As the population grew, farming land was scarce and access to basic necessities was limited. Agricultural output was entirely exported and the people evolved financially using "the creative art of selling".

Evolution of Market

Today in Ibarra the most common means of income is trade and sales. Selling started in the form of an open market. Then, as the need for a common marketplace died, individual families opened up and dedicated small portions of their home to sell goods and services. The need to enter one's home created a scenario that was not visible or inviting enough. Stores expanded onto the street. As families grew and need was higher than demand in the immediate vicinity of the home, sales became mobilized. If you visit the town today, anything you image can be bought and delivered right to your doorstep: food, fresh water, and appliances.

Evolution of Vending Economy - Revival of Market Culture

Much like the American trend, access to the internet can bring you anything you can imagine in a very short period of time! In Ibarra, someone will drive up to your doorstep each day and announce on a speaker: tortillas, sweet bread, vegetables, fruit, cleaning supplies, drinks, mariachi, garbage collection, fresh bread, laundry services, lottery tickets, scrap metal collection, water, gas, caskets, funeral services, flowers, and clothes! 

The art of shopping is literally at your fingertips.

Olga Anaya, Associate AIA

Olga Anaya, Associate AIA