Just because you’re living or vacationing in the wild northwestern Guanacaste province doesn’t mean you have to go without the comforts of the city – at least, not now that a couple of new supermarkets have moved in and stocked their shelves with previously hard-to-find gourmet items.
Long awaited by residents who know and love it from trips to the Central Valley, the AutoMercado chain is expected to open a store in the new GardenBoutiquePlaza in Tamarindo at the end of July.
This air-conditioned grocery-shopping oasis is set to be the anchor of GardenBoutiquePlaza, an attractive complex that will also house restaurants, clothing stores, jewelers and more (TT, Feb. 23).
Corporación AutoMercado has also purchased a lot in Playas del Coco, and is in the process of acquiring permits to begin building a store there, according to the company’s vice-president Diego Alonso. AutoMercado’s goal is for this store to open by the end of the year, he said.
“We’ve seen a big increase in development and real estate projects along the coast, and we think this is a very interesting client market,” Alonso said. “We hope to contribute to this development and be a part of the energy in this zone.”
The success of the Playa Herradura AutoMercado store that opened last year on the central Pacific coast has proven that these stores thrive in beach towns. Foreign visitors and residents, as well as Ticos, appreciate high-quality, imported items that aren’t found elsewhere, he said.
Like the Herradura store, the new Tamarindo and Playas del Coco stores will stock all the imported favorites found in Central Valley locations. Cheeses, wines, cereals, diet products and fruits and vegetables are among items that will fill shoppers’ carts. Additionally, the beach stores will include an expanded section of prepared foods for those on vacation who don’t feel like doing a lot of cooking, Alonso said.
In the town of El Llano on Highway 155, the gateway to beaches including Flamingo, Conchal and Brasilito, Supermercado del Pacífico (653-8081) has been open for about three months, offering a great spot to stock up on groceries on your way to the beach.
The store is “just phase one” of a project Canadian Debbie Bolan and her daughter Gail Bolan have under way, Gail explained.
They also plan to build a gated community of houses for sale or rent within the next year.
In Supermercado del Pacífico’s gourmet section, you’ll find imported cheeses, wines, meats and cigars. Since the store opened, shoppers have keyed in the owners on items that sell well.
“We monitor requests and see when a trend has started,” Gail said. Some of these trends include items she never would have imagined would be in such high demand, such as sauerkraut, she said. The store’s first batch of the Teutonic condiment flew off the shelves like hotcakes. Then the word was out, and sauerkraut-craving residents would flag down the owners in the street to ask if they’d gotten any more, Gail said.
Another favorite was the Keebler crackers North American shoppers were happy to toss into their carts.
But the store isn’t out to please only picky Gringos – the full Costa Rican basic food basket of rice, beans, eggs, tortillas and the like is available at good prices for the convenience of Tico residents, too. Supermercado del Pacífico also sells The Tico Times.
Also in Playas del Coco, Supermercado Luperón (670-0950) has been around for five years, carrying imported wines, meats, juices, canned goods and more, said floor manager Marcio Hudiel. All the Costa Rican basics are also available here, and this store is another spot where you can pick up a copy of The Tico Times.
Supercompro, a tried and true source for food staples, cosmetics and fresh fruits and veggies, has several locales around the Guanacaste province, including Cañas, Santa Cruz, Nicoya, Carrillo and two in Liberia, according to Enrique Alvarado, manager of the Liberia store located 75 meters north of Banco de Costa Rica. A distributor of The Tico Times, Supercompro is part of the Perimercados chain which also owns Jumbo supermarkets.