When buying art/crafts, There is a strong tendency to assume the prices that are quoted is the actual price.
You may even think a 10% discount is a bargain. Rest assured apparently the prices are marked up by 100%. Personally I was always willing to pay the full prices that was quoted, but the truth is be prepared to pay ONLY 50% and less that the price quoted.
My signature vacation rep told us about this and it is amazingly true, for eg. we bought a piece of artwork that was quoted at 150 USD. The guy immediately dropped the price by 20% just for "us", when we decided we were leaving, the $150 artwork was suddenly worth $25USD.
As poor as the Dominicans are, haggling is a WAY of life and is expected.
What to buy: Art work, local and Haitian art.
What to buy:
Wood carvings make really good buys.
Before buying make sure the carving doesn't has any even small perforation as it will turn to the big one soon (especially when you take this to place with completely different climate conditions).
What to pay: Price depends on the size of carving and quantity you want to buy, but remember that you can always negotiate (negotiations at Dominican Republic are expected and very welcome)
What to buy:
Hand maid (by local inhabitants) paintins - variety of lively colours and matters they represent is admirable.
Look very nice and were very welcome by people I gave some...
What to pay: The price depends of the size and quantity you want to buy, but you can of course negociate. Pitchers at the small side streets demand less prices (intead of those in the center). Quality is the same.
What to buy: If you want to bring some she-shells from Cayo Levantado you don't have to buy them from the vendors. You can easily collect them yourself on one of the beaches (left direction from the place where you disembark from the boat)
In the Bedouin's tents, you could find and buy good silk and good carpets for few dollars!!!
Venta Club "Marsa Alam" have also an excellent boutique and a shop in itself!!
What to buy: The arabian people have their " art to negotiate ": it's fun to buy something with them!!
What to pay: Everything is cheap!!!
This kind of vendors are all over the country, so you won't get to scape them, but they peddle some items that would cost you a lot more in the local shops, for example; "The Mamajuanas" this is an empty bottle of rum, filled with pieces of varied roots and local woods, that you add the local rum "Brugal" to, and it has to settled for sometime there soaking up on the root barks, till you obtain a distintive flavor not found anywhere else in the world, this process however is lenghty and has to be done in stages, for example the first batch of rum has to be discarded in a period of a week or two, because the bark and roots inside the botle will emit a lot of sand like particles, which as you can imagine aren't good to drink, also the first two or three batches are discarded because the taste aquired by the rum is too strong and drowns the rum taste you mean to spice, you can see the bottles hanging on the lower right of this pic on the left, they come in many sizes but don't get one too small, a half gallon beeing the most recommended, it should last you about two years filling and drinking repeatedly, you only do the preparation once, when it empties just refill it.
What to buy: MAMAJUANAS
Ready made not recommended
What to pay: For a good batch of barks and roots expect to pay RD$200 or so, any cheaper and that's what you'll end up with, cheap wood!
Larimar is a blue pectolite, and a result of vulcanic activity, which ocurred many million years ago on the island of "La Hispañola". Its crystallization took place when the volcanic lava was cooling off as columns in the tubular "chimneys", in which these pectolites, andesites, basalts and other minerals formed.
The most important outcrop of blue pectolites, is located at "Los Chupaderos", in the section of "Los Checheses", about 10 kilometers southwest of the city of Barahona, in the south-western region of the Dominican Republic.
Many of the nuclei or small blocks of blue pectolite or Larimar are in situ , which means at the very place w here they formed. But some of these, however, as a result of superficial erosion, boke off and slowly were dragged by the rain waters down the slopes of the hill.
Thus they arrived at the torrent Sitio, from which the waters swept them into the river Bahoruco, and finally they ended up and were deposited in the Caribbean Sea, and washed by the waves. This is the reason why initial findings took place at the beaches of Barahona as if Larimar had come out from the sea.
The first evidences of this rare mineral appeared in small rollings that sometimes were found at those beaches of Bahoruco. In fact, in the year 1974, Norman Rilling, a member of the Peace Corps of the United States, and the Miguel Méndez, a Dominican Followed the vestige upstream the Bahoruco river, they got to "Los Checheses, the place at which at present the most abundant outcropping is found.
Also the name "LARIMAR" is due to this finding. Miguel Méndez' daughter's name is "LARIssa", and at the sea (Spanish: "MAr") it was found.
When buying at local shops, no dealing on prices is accepted on any item on the store, prices on tags are pretty much what's expected at check out, this differs greatly on street vendors and other non localized sales, prices are about 2/3 over of what your're expected to pay after barter for any item, this includes food, toys and appareal, however this beeing said, some items like paintings and sculptures on sale are overpriced only about 1/4 of the expected sales price, this contrast is because most artits peddle their own work and expect to sell it as soon as possible to continue their works, so they tend to slightly overpriced their items so the barter process is a very short one.
What to buy: AMBER-- This native gems are beeing sold under-priced for several years now, but the trend it's going to come to an end soon because some major jewelry corporations have signed deals with dominican companies to use them for their own collections, also this includes LARIMAR-(Native Turquoise). Shown in the pic at top left.
The prices quoted by the vendors on the beach near the resort tend to be ridiculous, so bargain like mad. But don't be too ruthless -- they generally need the money a lot more than you do.
What to buy: 1) Dominican Rum. Enough said.
2) Vanilla extract, which is infinitely superior to the watered-down version we get up north.
3) Larimar: Lovely pale-turquoise coloured, semi-precious stone. Lots of very nice, reasonably priced larimar jewelery around.
What to pay: Variable
Ah, the local country liquor store!
What to buy: Dominican Republic Rum of course.
What to pay: I paid 190 pesos for a 26 of rum. We also brought back cacao (for hot choclate) pure vanilla for cooking, several paintings.
What to buy:
These 2 brands of Ron (rum), seeemed quite popular in Dominican Republic.
They can be purchased at any supermarket.
What to buy: This coffee is absolutely aromatic and has a really great full bodied taste. I will HIGHLY recommend this brand, you can purchase in any grocery store in the Dominic Republic.
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