Monday, March 16, 2009

El Mercado Central: Charley Costa

Today we took a class field trip to El Mercado Central in downtown San Jose. It was an absolutely incredible experience that redefined shopping in my mind. In order to get to El Mercado one has to walk through the shopping part of San Jose. This shopping part is nothing but a wide street that goes for probably close to ten blocks where cars are not allowed to drive. There are stores of all different kinds on each side of the street with people out front begging for you to enter their shop. El Mercado Central is located on the right hand side of the street about five blocks from the beginning of the pedestrian shopping area. It was laid out similar to an indoor flea market, with stores selling a wide variety of products from shirts to hammocks to shot glasses and even raw meat. I have never seen so much raw meat in such a small place before in my life. There were also just some simple little stands selling fruits and vegetables as well as a couple of food stands. The best part about the mall in my opinion is that no price is set in stone. It is possible to haggle and negotiate the price of anything, normally with a good amount of success as well. I know on my two purchases I negotiated for close to a dollar off each one. It may not seem like much but a dollar off a ten dollar purchase is a ten-percent discount. It is so different from the stores in the United States where as shoppers we are price takers. There is nothing we can do to change the price of our purchase. Here the consumer is the price makers. It is an interesting for the consumer to actually dictate the sale instead of the vendor.
While El Mercado is not something to plan a trip a trip to Costa Rica around, it is something worth visiting in the San Jose area. It is a fun way to kill and afternoon and you never know what kind of discounts you may find.

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