The young woman who owns the shop is so helpful and friendly. It has a great selection of unique crafts at excellent prices
What to buy: A pewter jewellery box for 60 pesos
Lovely trivets in pewter for 25 pesos
Pewter salad servers 60 pesos
Interesting crosses from 10 pesos
What to pay: Great prices from 10 pesos, you don't need to bargain. The prices are genuine and reasonable, not inflated like some in the markets
This shop has all sorts of local artesania from wall art to pottery to candles and holders. It's all at a bargain price, even cheaper than in the artesan market nearby.
For example I bought a set of 3 canvases 80cm x 33cm each - for 220 pesos all 3.
The interesting ceramic candles set onto a plate with pebbles are 195 pesos here, they are 270 in the market.
You can buy a really cute sauce dish and spoon in the shape of a pig for only 18 pesos ($1.50), great for gifts.
The staff are helpful and they pack everything very well.
What to buy: The ceramics are wonderful but can be heavy if you are travelling any distance.
I recommend the ceramic candle sets here.
What to pay: Much less than the markets
Truly a Mexico experience, come to this open-air market and get ready to see an astounding range of merchandise, produce, food, animals, and always something entirely unexpected. It is also a social event as entire family stroll the crowded aisle doing their shopping.
Go in the morning when it is cooler and the dust isn't all stirred up, watch your wallet and camera, and enjoy the action.
What to buy: The Tuesday market is a big outdoor, one day a week, open market that sells everything, from fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, beans, nuts, chicken, shrimp, meat to clothes, housewares, used license plates, hardware, appliances, etc. A lot of the clothes are second hand and the discos are gray market pirated copies and other stuff looks like rejects from a garage sale but it is all spread out and business is brisk and the prices are low.
There are a few local markets in San Miguel selling arts and crafts and also produce.
El Mercado Ignacio Ramirez is located down Colegio from the Plaza Civil. There you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, meats, and food as well as cool produce bags (great souvenirs), clothes, and a variety of other items.
Next door and flowing down the hill on Lucas Balderas is the Mercado de Artesanias where you can buy anything from speakers to textiles to pottery.
Another local market in another area of town is el Mercado de San Juan de Dios. It is located down Calle San Rafael past the Church of San Juan. It is very similar to the aforementioned market but has less arts and crafts. This market is probably visited by less tourists.
The artists' market (it's really a bunch of andadores, and then the town's regular shops) has tons of local and "local" crafts and lots of overpriced junk. Just like any market. But for once I was actually moved by art--moved enough to buy it. So what? Well, I was ensnared by some exvotos.
What to buy: Exvotos, or ex votos, or retablos, depending on which website you visit, are prayers giving thanks. If you feel strongly grateful enough to make a public statement, you can commission an artist to capture your prayer in an image and then transcribe the prayer at the bottom. The item then goes to the church, where it is displayed for decades, when the church then, ah, deacquisitions? these items and they get sold in the marketplace. It feels invasive to bring home someone's prayer, but then again, they did make it public in the first place. It's difficult not to be moved by a prayer to the Virgin giving thanks for the ability to have a child after so many long years of waiting and praying for one. Or a prayer of thanks for not letting a son die of dehydration while crossing the border into the U.S. in search of work. I did not see any exvotos inside the churches I visited in San Miguel, but there was a small selection available in the marketplace, and the cool part, aside from the raw power of the things, is that you can tell there were a few core artists in the area. There are like three distinctive styles evident--well, there were in the selection available the day I visited. So I feel weird about bringing these things home, but while it may seem sacrilegious to do so, I have pieces of history, pieces of people's lives, and the most amazing remembrances of San Miguel.
What to pay: Per? $100 to $120 (pesos).
Not too far from the center of town is this great shopping center. There is a grocery store, smaller stores for glasses, crafts, hobby items, and even movie theaters. It's cool, clean and the people are very nice and helpful. I think it is called Higante.
The shops in San Miguel de Allende reflect the fact that it is now home to many US ex-pats and is gaining a reputation as being a travel destination. Shopping is very upscale here. And that means expensive.
What to buy: If I had a home, say in Mexico, New Mexico or Arizona, and I had an unlimited budget for decorating, I would come to San Miguel de Allende for the home furnishings.
As it turned out, on this trip, I was able to afford a pair of beautiful pewter salad tongs, which I use regularly to this day.
What to pay: A lot. The very nice merchandise is just as expensive as what it would be in the US.