Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Walmart Costa Rica

I had seen local Costa Rican news reports a couple months ago announcing that Walmart would be expanding their presence in Costa Rica.  Somewhat homesick for "U.S." products, I was excited to hear this news and immediately went about trying to find out where the stores were located.  To my surprise, Walmart Costa Rica was here, but was hiding behind locally known store names such as Maxi Bodega, Mas X Menos, Pali and Hipermas (according to a Walmart fact sheet dated 4/30/2011, they owned some 182 of these stores and had some 10,000+ employees countrywide).  However, upon entering these Walmart-owned stores, it quickly became obvious that Walmart Costa Rica was not quite, well, the Walmart I knew and loved back home in the U.S.

In the past month or so, however, Walmart Costa Rica decided to come out of hiding and has actually splashed the Walmart name and logo across several of its bigger stores here (see picture below).  TV advertising has picked up as Walmart Costa Rica began to advertise its "new" presence in the country and went about promoting its low price model.  Excited, I asked my boyfriend to take me to the store location in Escazu (which was previously a Hipermas) to see if this was the "real" thing.

Upon walking into the Walmart Costa Rica in Escazu this past Saturday, my first impression was that I was in an actual Walmart megastore. The store is huge (some 6,500 meters) and has all the familiar Walmart signs and layout.  Costa Ricans and expatriates were out in large numbers and the aisles were congested with shopping carts and these shoppers.  I had a chance to browse the entire store, and we came out spending about $200 U.S. dollars on food and miscellaneous household items.  My opinion is that the prices are not that low (compared to other Costa Rican stores, and not anywhere as low as Walmart prices in the U.S. - technology and appliances were especially high-priced).  Also, the variety was not anywhere where I'd have liked it to have been (for instance, there were only 2 kinds of hard cat food and 2 kinds of soft cat food available).  Since it's an hours drive from where I live in Miramar, Puntarenas to this Walmart on the western side of downtown San Jose, it's doubtful that I'll see a need to make a special trip back there again any time soon.  Still it's somewhat comforting to know that a piece of home is here if the mood ever strikes me again.

Walmart in Escazu Costa Rica

Inside Walmart Escazu

1 comment:

Costaricagringo said...

The elite families that control Costa Rica's government impose massive import taxes on virtually everything, so you'll never see reasonable prices at Walmart in Costa Rica. The selection of items is also terrible. It's sad to see Walmart not being able to operate properly, it's like a bull with its horns cut off.

Post a Comment