Shopping in Costa Rica – Trading with Local Merchants

Posted by Nov14, 2013 Comments (0)

At some point you’re going to want to investigate the local stores in your area to see what’s on offer. You’ll want to get some souvenirs to take home to your family and friends. Shopping in Costa Rica isn’t about high-end retail brands. It’s about local economies and merchants selling their wares. It’s a very traditional way of shopping, especially if you’re outside cities like San Jose.

Get Your Priorities in Order

Little trinkets and other items have passion infused into them. They aren’t soulless products which came off of a factory line somewhere. A lot of effort went into their creation. Don’t bring your jewellery and other expensive items. This is an adventuring holiday. It’s not a European nightclub excursion.

Match the locals and you won’t get taken for a fool. Moreover, in some marketplaces wearing lots of expensive apparel will make you an easy pickpocketing target.

Bartering with Local Merchants

ryankozie / / CC BY

Bartering with the locals is perfectly acceptable here. Feel free to pick up an item and ask what the price is. They’ll give you a price and you can see if they’ll accept anything lower. Some sellers absolutely won’t budge, but other see bartering as standard practice. It’s why these sellers will always issue much bigger initial offerings with the view to entering into negotiations.

Know When to Stop

The important thing is to know when to stop. Pura Vida will only take you so far. You’ll know by instinct when someone absolutely won’t budge. Once this happens, it’s time to accept the price or walk away. Pestering them won’t win you any friends, and it certainly won’t get them to lower the price any more.

Furthermore, your goal isn’t to try to fleece an honest merchant out of a day’s work. Remember, the average daily wage is about $10. You have the money to spend. You’re contributing to the local economy by paying a fair price for something you want to buy.

Watch What You Buy

This whole exercise is pointless if you can’t take the item you’re buying home with you. Costa Rica is a country famous for its fruit and coffee. Any fruit won’t be allowed back home with you due to fears over contaminants. Coffee, on the other hand, may need to be opened and put into a clear bag for it to pass the security checks.

The regulations differ between countries, though. The regulations are much stricter in the US than they are in the UK and other European countries. Check the relevant travel website before buying anything. Most items, such as clothes (of which Costa Rica is a centre for Latin American fashion), will be perfectly fine to take home with you. Ask us if you are unsure.


Categories : Costa Rica Interest

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