Best cultural collision (2000)


The signs decorating the warehousey building on the corner of West 38th Avenue and Osage Street in northwest Denver bilingually advertise everything from 14k gold jewelry, pagers and stereos to ropa and the joyería inside. But more than anything, it's the business's name -- against a logo bearing the colors of the Mexican flag -- that says it all: This is Ameri-Mart, brother, and all you need to be happy in this country is lots of stuff. Muscle shirts, mustard-colored jeans, packages of socks for two bucks, christening and communion dresses and Fruit of the Loom briefs. An entire aisle of shoes, 50 percent off. Kenwood and Bose speakers and subwoofers. Video games and Pokémon cards. Cleaning supplies, paper towels and trash bags. Monster squirt guns and brown dolls. Chairs, sofas and a "surprise" back room full of antiquey furniture, "Tiffany" lamps, gilded mirrors, faux elephant-tusk carvings and bronze deer and dolphin statues. Small appliances and Jesus candles. Dried chiles, freeze-dried coffee, corn husks and 25-pound bags of pinto beans for $9.50. Co-owner Mark Reichert says he and his partners "wanted to open a store that combined all the things we found other businesses in the area doing," but he swears that unlike that notorious, wholly American creation known as Wal-Mart, he's not trying to put nearby small businesses out. "I thought about that, but I think people like to come where they have a lot of choices. We have clothing, but that doesn't hurt the other clothing stores around here. People like to shop," he says. And when they run out of money, there's a Western Union at the front counter.


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