Our last couple of days have been shopping days, and I am coming to appreciate the merchandise better now that I’m looking at it more closely. I’m usually hurrying part the stores to escape the narrow sidewalks and passing buses. And the merch is often so crammed together, it’s easy to overlook the more distinctive items for sale. I have to learn to slow down sometimes to see that, oh wait, that bedspread really is exquisite; that votive is really amazing. I’m inclined to think of all shops in the clatter of the “tourist zone” as junk shops, but really, there’s some good stuff to be had! And some of the stores display their things beautifully, as well.
When we decided that my Dad should have a guayabera, and Mom should have some embroidered blouses, we were forced to slow our gaze at the store windows of the Centro. First, we came across what looked like a guayabera outlet that had cotton ones for $300 pesos. I hadn’t really looked at prices before, although I remembered shirts at the Fiesta Americana for much more, so I figured we had a bargain. We snatched up a beige one with simple stripe ribbing. A few blocks closer to the Zocalo, however, we saw some for as low as $190 pesos. Similar quality? Who knows. Like I say, I’m not really a shopper, but we picked up a blue $190 peso one, too.
There are some shirts with much more distinctive colors and fabrics, but let’s see how a plain guayabera goes over on Dad. The blue one might make him look a little like a barber, but maybe he’ll get inspired and find a new sideline at the age of 88.
For Mom, we found some really nice shops that had nice blouses for the more shapely woman. The flowy, colorful tops that are sold to local matrons seem so perfect for someone like Mom. But we wanted something “tipico,” so we found Camisería Canul, one of the more prominent outfitters of Mérida. The shop on Calle 62, packed up and down and all over with garment racks, was something like an old Army-Navy store on Main Street U.S.A. They had to pull something from the back room to get something for a larger, milk-fed American matron, but they found it! For $300 pesos, you can’t go wrong with a white blouse with such lovely embroidery. Around the corner, on 55, we found another top, a more contemporary cut with green embroidery, and laces down the front. (She’ll match the pillowcases we bought her last time, now that I think of it!)
For my future fashion needs, I came across Yucatekisimo, which had cool linen trousers and blazers, and a definitely no-pressure sales approach. Our hosts at Villa Verde tell us that the advantage of shopping for clothes locally is that it’s easier to find the light-weight denims and other fabrics here. I know that finding lighter weaves at Marshall’s and Old Navy for this trip, even in May, was a challenge.
For all we have heard about pricing, fit, and variety, it seems it would be unwise to entirely write off the local stores. Do I wish there were a Marshalls or Old Navy here? Maybe. But I’m noticing more and more expats this trip with locally purchased clothes designed for the tropics, and they are wearing them well.