Shopping in paradise


Bargaining over prices is not especially common in Mexico

  • By law, prices for goods must be posted (in pesos)
    • Nothing forbids a merchant from discounting
  • Mexicans almost always pay the posted price anyplace with a cash register
    • Department stores
    • Supermarkets
    • Restaurants
    • Car dealers (Mexicans usually pay "full sticker price" for new cars)

Places you can (and possibly should) haggle

  • Flea markets
  • Private sales
  • Street vendors
  • Stores where someone calls you in off the street
  • Stores in the Plaza del Sol (the large "flea market" building at the back of the zócalo)
  • Stores in the pedestrian part of 5a Avenida

Be cautious when bargaining in currencies other than pesos

  • Know the exchange rate
  • Find out the price in pesos right away
    • If the vendor has to compute the price in pesos, be especially wary
      • They're used to dealing with tourists paying in dollars
      • They're not following Mexico's consumer law if prices aren't in pesos

Know what things are worth

Not everything is a bargain

  • Mexico does not make Swiss watches or Persian rugs nor have diamond or tanzanite mines
  • Some things are sold in tourist areas simply because there are tourists with money there
  • Check what something would cost you at home

"Duty-free" is essentially a sham

  • The entire state of Quintana Roo is a duty-free zone
  • "Duty-free" shops often sell the same product at higher prices than other local shops
  • You must still pay import duty on anything above your personal allowance when you return home

Be careful about high-ticket items

  • Mexico has very strong consumer protection laws and takes fraud seriously
    • However, you probably can't deal with a problem from 2,000 miles away
  • Returns on retail purchases are not typical
    • Most sales, even at department stores, are final
    • Inspect purchases carefully before completing a purchase

There ARE some great bargains

  • Amber
  • Artwork and handicrafts
  • Handblown glass
  • Leather goods
  • Silver
  • Stone (onyx, for example)
  • Turquoise
  • Pottery and ceramics of many types and styles
  • Punched tin mirrors, frames, and other items

There are some great merchants

cucurucucu has interesting and whimsical stuff

  • Many items are unusual or unique and unlikely to be found elsewhere
  • Quality is high
  • Clothing
  • Personal items (purses, wallets)
  • Decorative items
  • Communication shouldn't be an issue for English-speakers

Deja Vu Leather and Silver for shoes and jewelry

    • He has some unique and wonderful items
    • We trust him and think his prices are great
    • I get all of my shoes made there
    • We get silver jewelry custom-made there
    • Yes, it's both handcrafted leather and handcrafted silver. Also excellent hammocks.
    • His English is completely fluent

Los Cinco Soles for jewelry, handicrafts, housewares, and clothing

    • They have high-quality jewelry, including well-known Mexican designers
    • They have high-quality handicrafts from all over Mexico
    • They have good clothing
    • They have nice souvenirs of good quality and low kitschiness
    • Their prices are fair, though some of their products are inherently costly
    • Their home goods store "del Hogar" on Melgar has the same quality and prices as their main store but focused more on housewares and small decorative items
    • Most employees have good English and there will someone working who's completely fluent

    • They've earned a great reputation for quality
    • Taxco is the "silver city" in central Mexico famed for their products for centuries, but Sergio's makes some items locally
    • The silversmiths speak very good English

Zapateria Elsy at the Mercado Municipal for Yucatecan linen clothing

    • Her shop is on 25 Av. about halfway along the building, under an awning
    • I get all my guayaberas there
    • She has nice embroidered huipils, ladies' tops, and dresses
    • She's a nice woman who will treat you well
    • Her English is no worse than my Spanish
      • Unfortunately, that's not saying much...
      • Communication can take some time
      • Any minor struggles with communication are well worth it, and usually involve a lot of laughing