Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stuff shop - São Paulo

As all expatriates do in their temporarily adopted country, I miss things about my home country. Many things. And I'm not even talking how much I miss family and friends. I try hard not to spend my days bemoaning the lack of Target stores, or yellow school buses or even summer camp for kids. But when one of the burners on our gas stove stopped working, I mourned for a moment the lack of Home Depot. As most Americans know, there's not much you can't find at Home Depot.

Instead I had to hit the streets. We figured out that the issue was a burned-out automatic lighter. That must be easy to find right? Our stove is one of the fancier ones by a brand named Bosch, but this must happen all the time. So I thought. On a walk home from school one morning I stopped into one of the mom & pop "stuff" shops. There is no other way to put it. There is just "stuff" from lightbulbs to pencil sharpeners to toilet seats. It is stored floor to ceiling. There are bins of screws and other stuff--you get my point. All in a 10 foot by 6 foot narrow shop.

Out comes the owner, possibly nearing 80 years old, who says "pois não?" This is a phrase that took me a long time to figure seems to translate as "then no?"-- why are they greeting me with a negative? But "pois não" means "yes". Ah, so does "pois é" or "then it is" but "pois sim" does not exist. I've recently adopted "pois é" when someone says something like "this traffic is terrible"...I feel quite the fluent speaker when I say "pois é".  Did you understand any of that? No? Pois não? Just stick with "sim" and you can't go wrong.

Back to the shop.  I show the owner what I need and he shakes his head before I even finish. No,  I don't have it.  I ask if he knows another place that has it. He says try "Fogão Shop" (Stove Shop) on Rua de Pinheiros. No street number. Apparently everyone knows "Fogão Shop", the last word pronounced "Shoppy".

I'm off. I ask someone along the way about this Fogão Shop. He says he doesn't know but there is a store with stove stuff at "1177". Aha, a street address.  On my way to this address however, I see a store with the name "Fogão Shop" and stop in. I bring the broken part to the front of the queue and the guy shakes his head and says we don't carry stove parts. Huh. Where should I go? Try Rua dos Pinheiros, 1177.

Back along the construction zone that is Pinheiros and I stop into 1177. I am a bit hesitant as it mostly seems to have pots, pans and crafts near the door. The place is jam-packed with Stuff. I am in a Stuff store again. The young man in charge that day (none of these shops has more than mom & pop, or grown-up child) takes a look at the part and goes over to the wall of drawers, all with unreadable faded labels, and roots around in some plastic envelopes. And digs out the exact part I need. Sort of.  It's a bit different but I think close enough (close enough means that the middle burner of the stove now erupts into life, nearly taking my surprised mother-in-law with the inferno). It cost me $4US.

I'll have to find another Stuff shop soon to get the correct part before I fry up most of the people in the house. Or break down and call Bosch who will charge me $50US just to show up.  I'm leaning towards trying another Stuff shop. I like the challenge.


  1. I just loved the "pois é" and "pois não" and yeah, you are getting better every time I talk to you!
    That´s exactly what we were talking the other day about the "uhum" sound when you say thank you at the US.
    Nice post and Yeah, I wish we had Office Depot... we had Office Max but it closed...
    Have a nice trip, anything just call me!

  2. Kris, I may hunt this store down. My 3-year-old Mabe store has had a broken knob for 2 years now and I have never figured out how to get a new knob without buying a whole new stove. The Mabe call center must be outsourced to my cable tv company (Net) because it seems easier to dye cast a replacement knob for the electric oven part of the sove than actually get advice on where to buy one.

  3. I like the idea of a "stuff" shop. Seems like it would be an adventure. But not when there is something you really need to find. Only when you don't know what you want to find.