Pic of the Week: One-Stop Shopping in Tower Hill, Jamaica

January 27, 2017


Photographer: Martei Korley
Location: Olympic Way, Tower Hill, Kingston, Jamaica

Pic of the Week was one of the original LargeUp features:ย A series of dispatches from co-founder, creative director and chief photographer Martei Korley. Now, weโ€™re bringing it back. Each Friday morning, weโ€™ll share a different image illuminating the richness of the Caribbean experience.

Corner shops are the bodegas and convenience stores of Jamaica. If you’ve spent any time on the road in Jamaica, you’ve probably patronized one, or many, of these typically wooden, stall-like structures. This is where kids come after school to buy a bag juice, or their favorite “sweetie.” For grown people, it’s a place to grab a warm Guinness or a Rizzla before or after work, or stock up on a few household items like flour, Maggi seasoning, or “tin” mackerel. Get in the shopkeeper’s good graces over time, and he or she might just extend you credit.

Corner shops are often painted in bright colors, or covered in a memorable mural, particularly in areas where there is a lot of competition. Other times, they are as drab and nondescript as the wood they were made from. This corner shop, on Olympic Way in Kingston’s Tower Hill community, is typical in most ways, though on this particular day the shopkeeper went above and beyond the call of duty.

“I was doing some work in Tower Hill, and I wanted a spliff,” Martei says. “I was walking around and stopped to buy some juice and rolling paper. The shopkeeper was blazing off his spliff while serving us. I remember being surprised: he had everything I wanted right there inside. I thought I was just going to get a juice and some rolling paper, but I got some good herb, too.”

As for the shot itself, it seems to say: Welcome… More Fiyah!

“I suppose this picture speaks to the openness and welcoming of herb,” Martei says. “You are there looking for one thing, and you can find everything you’re looking for.”

See previous Pic of the Week features here.