The concept behind Bodega Stories is rooted in my youth.
My name is Amaris Castillo and I’m a journalist. I was born in New York City and, as the daughter of Dominican immigrants, grew up around bodegas my whole life. Both my parents, Freddy and Damaris Castillo, worked in bodegas. These small spaces felt like home to me, and the stories I heard from the people in them drew me in even more.
I remember being young and observing the regulars come into the Brooklyn bodega my father worked at. After buying their usual items, they’d stay longer and engage in animated banter with him. I remember studying the colorful stacks of gum and candies packed inside plexiglass cubbyholes, and the omnipresent cat whose sole purpose was to take care of nuisance mice.
In the early 2000s, my family moved to Florida, where my father took on a Mexican bodega/market. That didn’t work out, and he later ended up working in construction, my mother at Walmart.
Some years passed, and my parents decided to take on another bodega, this time in Saint Petersburg. A decade has passed, and my parents are still the proud owners of Orlando Latin Market. This space, a bit bigger than your typical NYC bodega, feels like home to me now.
With my passion for photography and storytelling, I thought to create a platform where I can share these unique stories. I hope you enjoy them and are able to learn something from each.