Saturday, January 5, 2013

Shopping on the Beach

I may be the rare bird that likes to buy goods from the vendors on the beach in Mexico - but it is something I look forward to every trip.  I usually do it near the end of my stay at the end of the day.  I stop by the tiki bar at the pool and grab a margarita or a cold beer and mosey on down to the beach, dig my feet in the sand, and wait for the bartering to begin.


The vendors in Puerto Vallarta on the beach have a 'territory'.  Each has a license to do business and have an assigned hotel or section of the beach to do their selling.  They are not vultures that try to force their goods on you but polite nice people just trying to make an honest days wage.  Granted they will approach you but if you are not interested and say 'No Thank you' or 'No Gracias' - they respect that and will walk away.  However if you do show interest in one vendors wares - others will flock to you since they see there is a 'live one' ready and looking to do some buying.  I think it is fun.

My favorite items are silver jewelry and there is an abundance of silver jewelry in Mexico.  The guys with the fold out cases are the ones with the 'good stuff' and the ones you want to deal with.  But make sure they have a license and show it to you.  I have had good luck with the silver I have bought on the beach but sometimes you could buy something that isn't solid.  They of course will start a higher price than they are willing to sell it for - so counter with a lesser amount and stick to your price.  If they can't go that low they will tell you and come down from their original price and you accept or try again to a price you are comfortable with.  This back and forth can go on for a bit - but if you truly want a certain piece of jewlry and they truly want to sell it - you will come to a price that you are both happy with.

Jeff found a beautiful leather, handmade belt on the beach.  He was very excited and the quality was really amazing.  It is so thick he feels it will never wear out!

If you aren't really interested or you want something at a ridiculously low price - don't waste their time or yours.  Don't insult them by offering $5 for a $50 necklace.   These people need to make a living and are happy to deal with you and whatever deal you make - it will definitely be better than any purchase you will make back home for a similar item.

I am the queen of deal making and I love the satisfaction of getting something beautiful for a fraction of what I would pay at home and I am happy to support the beach merchants who stand in the HOT sun for hours and hours each and every day trying to make an honest living.  I have more than once had them make me a beaded necklace on the spot with the colored beads I want or have made me matching earrings to go with a necklace I wanted.  They are eager to please and eager of course to make a buck.

We each bought a pair of sunglasses from this guy.  Pretty nice - faux Ray Bans - but for $15 bucks - who cares


And where can you get a beach cover-up for $10 (or less) in ANY color to match ANY bathing suit.  I think I have one in just about every color.  I tell myself I don't need another one - and somehow I seem to always have a new one to pack for the trip home. :)

So next time you are down in PV and you find that you need a few more souvenirs for the kids, your friends, the girl watering your plants back home - grab a cocktail, dig your toes in the sand - and enjoy the shopping mall that comes to you - you may be pleasantly surprised on the quality of the goods and the nice people that you just made their day.

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