Zvereff is a freelance designer, illustrator and photographer. He travels to the far corners of the world documenting his journeys through images and journals.
I am originally from the West Coast, so bodegas were a strange and curious thing to me. Entering my local corner store is like being transported to another country: the smells, music, and even language become vastly different. These places are in fact unique to this part of the country. Large chain grocery stores, which I was accustomed to growing up, simply cannot fit into the tiny nooks and crannies of Brooklyn’s tightly spaced buildings. Here bodegas continue to thrive as local, individually-owned shops, which allows them to stock unique merchandise tailored to each neighborhood’s specific needs. This ranges from Goya beans and plantains, which you can find in every Bushwick bodega, to wheatgrass shots and the organic produce of Williamsburg.
I focused on my neighborhood of Bushwick in Brooklyn. The task was considerably more difficult than I had anticipated. In a community where most of the customers are on a first-name basis with the clerks, my attempts at photographing life inside each store created an uncomfortable air. I was an intruder, creating some awkward moments.
Bodegas are the purveyors of groceries, household necessities, and vices. They are a melting pot of needs to be filled for a variety of characters. Stand in one for 20 minutes and be fascinated.