Arte Mexicano Nopal
The gentleman that owns this shop has stuffed it full of quality hand-crafted items, mostly from Oaxaca. The shelves overflow with distinctive black ceramics, hand-carved masks, copperware, plus other items. Browsing makes time go very quickly indeed, and you must go several times around the store as it seems every time you turn around, there's a new item that you missed.
What to buy: If you're in the mood for wood carvings, it seems he has a huge selection, from rustic containers, to masks. There's also a large selection of cooking spoons made from the Cuachalatate tree that he swears will last 20 years.
Sipalito Arte Popular
Sipalito has a gorgeous array of items from all over the Michoacan State. Their jewellry collection of fabulous, and they also have a large variety of rebozos, which are traditional scarves. I found the rebozos, though of high quality, to be only of thin cotton and very bright striped colors, so if you're into something a bit warmer and for more variation in design, hit the local market.
What to buy: The owners have a large collection of items squeezed into a small space; everything from furniture, to straw animals, and giftware. They also have some funky fun items, such as Frida Kahlo-themed straw bags.
What to pay: Prices are not cheap, as these are unique hand-crafted items. You get what you pay for; however, I thought the prices were fairly reasonable.
MERCADO DE LA CIUDADELA: MEXICO HANDCRAFTS
the biggest crafts center is LA CIUDADELA , near downtown, metro Balderas near zocalo
What to buy: you can buy all kind of crafts, like textiles, ceramics, jewErly, pottery, paintings, steinglass, glass products, etc
HIKING, TREkKING, MOUNTANEERING GOODS
You can buy quality goods for hiking, traveling, mountaneering,camping, surfing, ALL KIND OF SPORTS GOODS..... also specialized brands and things ..
What to buy: If you search big brands like north face, boreal, colleman, etc
there is http://www.dscorp.com.mx/rubens/index.html
in street Venustiano Carranza in downtown you find some options.
more expensive better quality brands
Patriotismo 899 Loc. 1
Esquina Río Mixcoac
Col. Insurgentes Mixcoac
Tel. ( 55 ) 56 15 52 29
Tel/ fax ( 55 ) 56 15 52 30
Federico T. de la Chica # 11-B
CD. satelite CP. 53100
Naucalpan Estado de México
Tel. ( 55 ) 53 93 52 87
Tel/ fax ( 55 ) 53 93 84 26
any they all serve the drinks: shopping can be bad for your health.
when you go out to le crucicetta at night, nearly all the shops insist you try their liquers, drinks etc.
not being much of a drinker or a party pooper i partook in quite a few mixes.. contained all the usual stuff, grasshopper, snake, scorpions, yeah right. they would not tell you what they was till you had drank them.
anyway i was suitably tuned in when ta dah out comes the bucket containing 8 yes 8 live scorpians.. grabbing one by the sting i allowed the shopkeeper to run it up my arm and place it back in the bucket. the man then turned round to get yet more drinks when being the brave soul under the influence i decided to put my hand right into the bucket.. quick as a flash i shouted WHHOOAH and yanked my hand back, the man nearly fell off his ladder, husband went white and was ready to have three shades of the soft stuff , whilst shouting WHAT'S UP, WHATS UP. when i patting my heart, calmly turned round and said, "God i thought there was a cockroach in there". he took me back to the hotel at this point. i was lucky that time. know your limit and be wary of the stuff you do not know.
What to buy: silver, gold, cotton dresses but most things are very cheap.
What to pay: nothing for the drinks, all on the house.
most places accept american dollers or pesos.
Mercado, street stall or even small stores: Tricks for the trade
Bargaining is a characteristic of Mexican commerce. Even in stores with "fixed" prices bargaining may be productive. For tourists it is best to act as if all prices are negotiable. The best places for negotiation are markets, stalls and small stores, but certainly you should bargain with street vendors, tour operators and corrupt police officers if you plan to pay the bribe.
What to buy: Buy what you need. Buy what you want. But in most cases, I would suggest that you should be shopping for things in Mexico made by Mexicans. Look for unique handcrafted items and beware of the existence of machine manufactured substitutes or imported substitutes brought in specifically for the tourist trade. In a "warnings tip " I gave some of the don'ts, here are some do's:
1. Be prepared to take some time to enjoy the process.
2. Look, touch, smell and ask about lots of the items even it is only with sign language. Try to learn more about quality and its relationship to price.
3. Smile, laugh, shake hands.
4. Feel free to praise without indicating a commitment to buy or even bargain on what you see.
5. Show that you are interested in buying, but are not committed to it. You are more than 'just looking'. You may notice that if you carry a bag that looks like you just bought something you will be offered better prices. (Remember never accept a first offer.)
6. Check out other shops for similar items.
7. Always offer a price lower than you are willing to pay. (How much lower depends on how comfortable you are with your understanding of the market price and your style of bargaining.)
8. Consider buying more than one for a discount.
9. Show interest and disinterest at the same time. "I like it, but it has this flaw. . .and your price is too high." (This can be done non-verbally.)
10. Walk away if you can not get a price you want to pay. (If you are not leaving the market, you might just pass by on your way out to give the vendor a second chance at your best offer.)
Also you will find that a final offer is more effective if it is a single bill or handful of bills and coins which empty the wallet or pocket.
11. Know the exchange rate.
What to pay: Only pay what you want to pay but expect to spend every peso you have in your pocket and then some. I have sometimes used being pushed to my dollar reserve to my advantage. For example, I have on occasion used the dollar exchange as a last step to speed up reaching my price. Lets say the exchange rate is 11 pesos to the dollar. The vendor has reached a price of 125 pesos and I have only come up to offering 105 pesos but would agree to 110, yet it now looks like we have reached that little impasse which threatens the deal. Rather than walk away, or make a final offer of 110 and walk away, I pull out a crisp new 10 dollar bill and offer it as payment in full. The vendor understands but probably pulls out a little calculator to try to show that $10 is only 100 pesos. Still he or she eventually agrees for "his friend". I do not know why this works, but it does. Maybe it is just the single bill effect. Good luck.
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Markets and shops everywhere: Mexican crafts
What to buy: I defy even the most miserly or budget-conscious traveller to leave Mexico without buying something! The range of crafts produced is truly amazing, many of them very local. Some are very traditional and were being made long before the advent of tourism; others, that may seem just as traditional, are much newer in their inception but that doesn't make them any less attractive.
Whether you opt for the functional - great textiles, embroidered clothes, good quality basketware, hats of fine panama or more basic straw, ceramic tiles, leather sandals - or the ornamental - silver jewellery, pottery animals, ornaments covered in intricate bead patterns, carved and painted gourds, pressed tin work - the list is endless ... you're bound to be tempted sooner or later.
If you're a shopper from way back - bring an extra suitcase - empty - from home.
My favourite buys?
A superb Zapotec rug, made with traditional indigo and cochineal dyes - expensive but worth it - a set of Nativity figures to add to my collection of Christmas creches from around the world, a wonderfully elegant big-brimmed panama hat, the envy of all my friends back home and traditional hammocks from Merida .... and I'm not usually a great shopper!
My best buys?
Pierced tin Christmas ornaments for all my bookclub friends - the aim of the game being to find a present for each of them for less that $1 each. At 30c each, they were perfect.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
When shopping for gifts to take back home don't forget to bargain! Mexicans are known for that. Acourse you can not bargain in large department stores or in most of the stores of the shopping center where the prices are established by the company. But in Playa del Carmen where the small local shops are spread out across streets you have to open your mouth and bid your way down for that souvenir you really want to bring back home for mom. Many shops carry hand crafted things and ask for a perticular price because they know your a tourist, my technique is to ask for a perticular price and to not meet anywhere in the middle with sales person...he will meet you next to the price you want cause he wants you to by his item. Another way to get want you want is to walk away or say that your not interested, most will chase after you and sell you the itrm for the price you want, if not there is plenty of shops with the same hand crafted items...just get elsewhere.
What to buy: ~Marble is very popular in this part of town, and you will find many marble crafts. (i.e. marble chess/checkers sets, pens/pencil holders, and little marble statues to name a few).
~Embroidery thats hand sewed or croched with beutiful colared kniting.
What to pay: On small-medium souvenirs: $3-$10...depending afcourse on what it is.
Bargaining in Markets
I was shy to bargain at first but being recruited by a group of Lebanese tourists as a translator in Acapulco helped me learn first hand how to do it.
The key to bargain is to be reasonable and polite. Bargaining in markets is usually expected but tourists from some places are not so accostumed to it. The vendor will state a price after being asked, usually about twice what they expect to sell their item for. You offer what you feel is more reasonable, often half or a little less than half of what they ask, not getting outraged, not getting flustered and not feeling ashamed because undoubtedly the final price will still be a bargain for you depending on the item. Usually one more price is stated in which you raise your offer just a bit and an agreement will be made. You can also ask for bulk discounts. If you for example want 3 or more items of the same kind or from the same shop, maybe the vendor will entertain a discount or throw in something for free! It doesn't hurt to ask.
My favorite things are onyx and ceramic pottery but there are so many nice things to choose from. Boutiques and hotel gift shops don't usually bargain on the same types of things.
What to buy: Silver jewelry, onyx, wood carvings, wall hangings and well made weavings, metal work, home decorative items and ceramic pottery. Lots of beautiful things to use at home.
What to pay: Price varies by location - boutiques and museum shops being the most expensive to markets in tourist areas.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Galeria del Arcangel
One of the first quality handicraft stores in Patzcuaro, this huge store offers anything your heart desires. If you are a fan of rustic chic, like I am, you will fight urgings to bring down a shipping crate and fill it up.
There is a large selection of handmade wooden furniture, ceramics, wooden masks, some clothing items, glassware ... you name it, they have it. The staff are very pleasant and helpful and wrap items automatically for travelling. It's almost worth buying something just to get one of their unique straw-handled shopping bags.
What to buy: Have a look at their website, and fall in love like I did!
What to pay: We found they will bargain a little, unlike other high-end crafts stores. They also take credit cards, which is very helpful when items are pricey.
If you're looking for beautiful, traditional Mexican clothing that is almost heirloom quality, a stop at Lupita's is a must. Lupita Bravo de Whitehead has handpicked handmade cotton clothing from the Mexican states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas, as well as the city of Guadalajara and Mexico's neighbor, Guatemala
She also has a wide selection of chunky jewellry, traditional scarves, purses, and other accessories. The shop is tiny, but she has a suprisingly wide range of items. The downside is that Mexicans tend to be small, so I would say if you are more than a US size 12, you may be disappointed. The gracious Lupita will help you hunt for an item you are looking for, or her assistant Gaby, who is very helpful. They also do hemming on short notice as well.
What to pay: Prices are not cheap; these are hand-made, often one of a kind items. I purchased an embroidered Oaxacan dress, and it was approx $143 US . She does not take credit cards.
Small religious article shops: Rosaries for Catholic friends
If you have any Catholic friends there is a type of small shop that most tourists are likely to miss but can provide you an opportunity to pick up some nice presents. These are shops that sell religious articles. There are, of course, all levels of quality and many items from outside Mexico, but I would direct your attention to hand made items from Mexico.
In Puebla, I once purchased a dozen rosaries for an older Catholic friend who regularly visited the Catholic shut-ins of our town. Her daughter was one of my travelling companions on this trip. The daughter added the perfect touch when she approached a priest at the cathedral by herself and using hand gestures and a few words of high school Spanish was able to get the priest to bless the rosaries for the poor shut-ins.
What to buy: Rosaries by the half dozen or, of course, anything else you see of meaningful beauty from Mexico.
What to pay: If you stick to things made in Mexico, you will find the prices quite reasonable if not shockingly inexpensive. I have no idea on how the prices of imported items would compare with the price of those same items in the USA.
Tourist Kiosks at the ruins -Chitzen Itza: Crystals and Stones
It looked like a tourist store - a variety of souvenirs but near the back was a section with Rocks and Crystals
What to buy: Obsidian balls, other local crystals and rocks
If you are a crystal or stone collector Become familiar with the local stones before you go. In the Yucatan area of Mexico it includes Obsidian, fire opals and malachite.
I work part time in a bookstore that sells Crystals and semi precious stones. I was drooling over a small 2-3" Golden Sheen Obsidian Ball we sold at the store. At the ruins of Chitzen- Itza, I just happened to run into a little shop minutes before the bus left. . I found an area with rocks and got a 5" gold sheen obsidian ball
What to pay: Only $$3.00 US ( at the store I work in vancouver the 3" was $63.00Can)Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
What to buy: buy things produced in MEXICO..
you can buygood guitars in PARACHO, MICHOACAN
coopers utilities in SANTA CLARA DEL COBRE, MICHOACAN
wool rugs in OAXACA
mezcal alchohol in OAXACA state
tequila in Jalisco state
good shoes in LEON , Guanajuato
vanila products in PAPANTLA, VERACRUZ
surfboards in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Jewels, silver, gold, ambar etc
In Mexico you can buy great things....
You can buy great silver crafts in TAXCO, GUERRERO
.. great gold crafts in VALLADOLID,YUCATAN..AND CHILPANCINGO, GUERRERO
...Ambar ..in SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS....
you can get all kind of products in Mexico city in
Mercado de la Ciudadela
Mercado San Juan
Mercado de la zona Rosa
If you are there over the weekend, do forget to check-out the rate. We paid about US$165 excl tax...more
Our travel agent told described the accomdations here as luxury but they were a bit less impressive...more
Clean well maintained and on a very nice private beach setting. Several restaurants on the property....more
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