good deals in puerto rico
Now that we are officially “Puerto Rican consumers”, we can see firsthand how heavily the odds are stacked against them (us). It’s not enough that costs are naturally elevated just by virtue of living on an island. We also have to endure the highest sales tax rate in the nation and bear the cost of numerous protectionist, anti-competitive regulations, adding insult to injury.
The biggest thorn in the side of Puerto Rican consumers might be the Jones Act; a relic from the post-World War I era mandating that all shipments between two points in the United States be transported on U.S.-built, U.S.-flagged vessels with a crew that is at least 75 percent U.S.. As a result, shipments from the east coast to Puerto Rico cost roughly twice as much as similar shipments to neighboring Dominican Republic. Absent this legislation, inbound or outbound foreign ships could make a stop at Puerto Rico on the way to or from the United States, which would obviously be more efficient than being forced to transfer the cargo to a U.S. ship first.
Furthermore, on top of elevated shipping costs, we also have to absorb a 6.6% tariff that is imposed on most imported retail goods.
Even locally produced products are not as inexpensive as they could be. The dairy industry here, for example, is heavily regulated to the point where competition and imports appear to be flatly disallowed. The price of a gallon of milk is fixed at $5.70 a gallon no matter where you go. Where we come from, the dairy market is freer and more vibrant. We could pick up a gallon of milk for $2.59 at the Corner Store or meet with a local farmer to buy delicious raw milk for $7 a gallon. (BTW, if anyone knows if we are allowed to purchase raw milk in Puerto Rico, please let us know where we can get some!)
Beyond milk, even local fish and produce are not as economical as you might expect. The way to get the best deals on local goods is either by producing your own or going directly to the source, whether to a fisherman or a farmer. Unfortunately, what you save in money you lose in convenience, as you may have to drive to several different locations.
In spite of all this, the retail market here is pretty impressive considering we are on an island in the Caribbean. The availability of Amazon Prime is certainly a big reason for that but there are local deals to be had as well. I have two examples I want to share in this post. If you know of any others, please share in the comments. Everybody loves a good deal!
Down the hill from our condo is a little strip center with a grocery store, a hardware store and another store called Me Salve. A friend of ours was raving about how much she loves that store so we recently got around to checking it out. It’s a small and clean department store stocked mostly with clothes, makeup, and household items. What really stands out though are the ridiculously low prices. It’s not uncommon to find clothes on their clearance racks for just a few dollars a piece and in some cases just $1!
As an example, Holly was accustomed to buying swimsuits ON SALE for $80 from Athleta. At Me Salve she found a cute bikini for $6.99 FULL PRICE (not on sale)! Granted, the quality is not of the same caliber, but at less than 1/10 the cost, it’s hard to go wrong! If what you are looking for is available at Me Salve, it’s likely to be much cheaper than it would be at a big-box store like K-mart. It’s nice to see places like this where local consumers can stretch their dollars.
Once you taste a “pastured” egg from a free-range hen, it’s hard to go back to standard eggs. Unfortunately, even though we often see chickens roaming the roadsides, we have so far been unable to find dark golden-yolked eggs here that are comparable to what we had access to in Texas.
Well ,I guess if you are going to buy standard eggs, they might as well be cheap, and boy have they gotten super cheap here lately. I recently saw a dozen for only 69 cents! After doing a little research online, I discovered that because the bird flu epidemic of the last year is basically over, we are the beneficiaries of a glut of medium size eggs. Apparently, there isn’t much of a market for these eggs in the states so some of them end up here. If you are in the states and have been keeping up with the prices of medium size eggs, please share the lowest prices you’ve seen. I’m curious how the prices compare. Regardless, 69 cents a dozen is a deal and a welcome source of inexpensive protein for many Puerto Ricans I’m sure.