Buy the local crafts: Wood carvings
Shopping in Montego Bay is fun, lots of exploring and telling people no thanks or I'm just looking right now, becomes a quick habit! The local merchants can be rather pushy, but if you politely say no thanks they will tend to leave you alone. There are several market places in Montego Bay to shop for the local crafts, the prices are very fair and negotiation is expected. Terry got this 4 foot carved fish for $75.00, the man wanted $150.00 to start, I'll let her do the negotiations when it come to shopping!
Don't forget about how you are going to get this piece of art work home!
This fish cost $78.00 to send home by DHL
What to buy: The wood carvings are the best, dresses of all types, Stone and mable carvings, necklaces, hats, shirts, shoes, you name it you can find it hand crafted by local Jamaicans trying to make a living. so help support the local economy and buy real Jamaican craft to decorate your home
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Shops in Montego Bay: Cool little shops to poke in.
Great little shops like this all over Montego Bay. It fun to walk down the street and just pop in these cool little stores to see what they have. The prices are not to bad and some times you can talk them down a little. These are great places to get your souvenirs to take home to every body and you may get a cool story to go along with it from the shop owner..
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Various: Montego Bay shopping shuttle
We finally made it into Montego Bay on our 5th trip to the area, our hotel had a twice daily shopping shuttle that stopped at four different places to shop. The 1st stop was a shop along the hip strip with the usual assortment of tshirts and trinkets, the 2nd stop was at a duty free store so we asked the driver if he could take us to downtown so we could have a look around as we didn't want to shop there.
The driver dropped us as the edge of downtown, we walked back to the Old Fort Craft Market which I think was the 3rd stop. It was empty except for us and the vendors as there were no cruise ships in town that day. The vendors are friendly but a little aggressive and after awhile I started to feel like a mouse released into a kennel filled with cats. We bought a couple of magnetic strands of beads that could be fashioned into a bracelet, necklace or anklet and then headed back to downtown where the real people of Montego Bay hang out.
What to buy: You'll find all the usual souvenirs here-tshirts, hats, wood carvings, beaded jewelry, coffee mugs etc. Don't be afraid to bargain and don't be afraid to move along as you'll find the same stuff at each of the booths. I didn't bargain too aggressively though, I figure the economy has to be really tough on these folks.
Browse for a bargain
This is St. James Street, one of the main shopping areas. You will find lots of shops crammed full of everything from toiletries to clothes, jewellery to CD's and pots and pans to shoes! often in a very small area and piled high to the ceiling.
What to buy: Buy anything here you may need during your holiday, also souvenir clothing and fashion jewellery.
The City Centre Mall has a few bargain shops for clothes and fashion accessories, and some great mens watches that look really expensive, but only cost a few dollars.
There is a large craft market just along the road from Courts (which is at the bottom of St. James St.) If you go here be prepared to get very hot and sticky (a paper fan helps a little!) and every stallholder (and I mean EVERY one) will ask you to look at their wares, just bear in mind that they are all in competion for a sale, and tourists are few these days.
There is another smaller market on the Hip Strip, just as hot and competative, but both are well worth a visit, some of the craft work is amazing, especially the wood carvings.
As with the tourists souvenir shops haggling is part of a sale, but if you don't they won't complain!!
What to pay: Downtown prices are usually a lot lower than in the tourist souvenir shops; however, wherever you are, if you try a little haggling you will get a reduction on most goods, and if you're buying 4 or more items you may be lucky and get up to 30% off the total price.
Tropical Treasures: The Amazing Sam
Tropical Treasures is a souvenier shop located in Montego Bay, and any cab driver can take you right to it.
Frommer's Travel Guide says it much better than I can:
"What's the best souvenir shop in Montego Bay that isn't part of any larger crafts market? It stands alone on the Hip Strip, surrounded by less appealing shops on at least one side. It's Tropical Treasures, Shop #1, 55 Gloucester Ave. (tel. 876/971-8531). Open daily from 9am to 7pm, under the ownership of the genuinely charming Sam Chhugani, it offers handmade gift items, a wide range of Jamaican rums, cigars, jerk spices, and coffees, CDs by Jamaican musicians, rum cakes, some very intriguing beachwear, and some of the most attractive women's dresses we've seen -- the kind that make most women look fluid, graceful, nubile, and sexy. Many were crafted in India, come in "one size fits all" motifs, seem appropriate for cocktail parties within moonlit gazebos, are undeniably sexy, and rarely exceed $50 in price."
To say Sam Chhugani is "genuinely charming" is an understatement. He greets every customer in person and seemingly stays with you the entire time, though he is constantly catering to the hundreds of people coming in and out the door.
Free samples of local rum are abundant, as are his lectures on how to select the perfect cigar. Also, the shop offers free phone calls back to the United States.
Sam wraps up every purchase with a "20% smile discount." Just smile and the prices keep coming down. With Sam running the show, it's hard not to.
What to buy: Some very good local rum and very good Cuban cigars (Cohiba, etc.), at incredibly cheap prices.
What to pay: Most items are moderately priced.
SONA: Bargains Galore
Sona is a great shop for a bargain, anything from a small souvenir trinket, clothes, alchol and wood carvings, to beautiful linen and jewellery.
You can also get a good exchange rate for currency and the staff are very helpful and charming.
New Majesty Crafts and Souvenirs: No pressure, no problem!
Semone at New Majesty was very friendly and helpful and allowed me to shop without pressure. She also will negotiate prices, and personalize certain items.
NOTE: While there are many souvenir shops along the Hip Strip, try to support the Jamaican-owned ones, like New Majesty. Due to an influx of foreign shopowners, native shopowners have suffered.
What to buy: Please try to get something other than a T-shirt or keychain! Local paintings, sculpture and wood crafts are all over the place.
You can also get some Blue Mountain coffee (Jablum is certified 100% Blue Mountain and is said to be the best brand). Of course, rum is easy to find!
Whatever you buy, check your labels - some items may look handmade and say "Jamaica" on them, but they are really made in China or Indonesia (e.g., wind chimes, photo albums, etc.).
What to pay: Depends on the items purchased. I got better price on rum from New Majesty than at my hotel's gift shop.
- Arts and Culture
Beedyman: Local Craftsman
Tony's craft stall is sited in the corner of the Doctors Cave Beach Hotel gateway! Yes, there are craft stalls like this all along the Hip Strip, anywhere there's a space someone will set up their 'likkle business'
Anywhere: Customs-proof food items.
Any of the shops along the Hip Strip, or in any of the shopping areas will do.
What to buy: JABLUM (Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee) . Appleton Estate Rum, Cuban Cigars - The store on the south side of the strip that has the "Travel Cuba" text painted on the sidewalk seems to have to best prices. CUBAN CIGARS ARE ILLEGAL TO TAKE TO THE US. However, a little bird told me that if you take the rings off, they can't prove a thing, and $1 US will pay to airmail the rings back to the US. You are allowed 2 liters (3 750mL bottles) of alcohol through customs.
What to pay: Montecristo Cigars - $5/per
COHIBA Robustos - $5.50 - $6/per
JABLUM Coffee - $12/lb
Appleton Estate and other excellent rums - $9.99/750 mL
Shopping Center: Great shopping Center for Gifts
If you want to do a little shopping but don't want to wonder too far off the resort, there is a small little shopping center right next door to the resort.
If you just go past the gates it is the building to the left and you can get inside from the back door which really isn't a door but an archway that will lead you into a building that is a half moon which has different kinds of souvenir shops
What to buy: If you want to buy a T-shirt, this is the place to go. But look around because all the shops sell t-shirts so don't settle! Sometimes you can negotiate a price.
We bought items in one store that had a sign that read "Prices may change depending on the attitude of the customer."
They gave us two bottles of Red Strip Beer for free because for some reason they really liked us. I don't remember which store that was though.
What to pay: You will pay a little more for the better quality T-Shirts. Make sure you put your hand in them too see if you can see your hand through the t-shirt. If you can it is very cheap and don't bother!
Little Jamaica Gift Shop Holiday Shopping Centre: Montego Bay Shopping
We just returned from Montego Bay on 11-1-10. We found a great shop across from the Holiday Inn Sunspree. Little Jamaica Gift shop #15 in the Holiday Shopping Centre. Carissa an Kim were the sales people. They had a large array of gifts, souveniers and spices. They id not hassle us to buy and were not aggressive. They told us that they unerstand the tourists do not like to be rushed or pushed to buy and therfore let us take our time and browse. They showed us many items and were very customer service oriented. Not being familiar with the currency, my husband gave them a little too much and theyreaily ponted out the error and gave us the money back. (very rare for this to happen). We did all of our souvenir shopping there. They even wrapped our parcels and made them ready for us to pack. Such good service. Next time we return, will definitely shop with them.
What to buy: Spices, key chains, T-shirts and caps. small items due to the weight restrictions on the airline carriers.
GRS Imports: Best deal we found on coffee (but not rum)
This is where we found the best price on blue mountain coffee...$13 per pound. It's a great thing to bring home from Jamaica, as the price in Canada is far far higher! And it's best to buy it in the Mo Bay shops because the price at the airport duty free shop is almost double at $25 per pound!
We also bought a 750 ml bottle of 12yr Appleton Rum for $25 which was a BAD choice. The same bottle at the airport duty free shop was only $19.
This trip was in January of 2011.
What to buy: Do buy your blue mountain coffee in Mo Bay, but hold off on the rum until you get to the airport duty free shop.
What to pay: $13 per pound was the deal we got.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons