a mini whole foods market

I started to write another post this morning about our first day in Puerto Rico (my goal is to write a post for this blog every other Saturday), but then we decided to take a “quick” trip to the store.  It doesn’t take one too long to figure out that there is no such thing as a “quick trip to the store” in Puerto Rico, much less three stores like we did today.  Between traffic, parking, finding what you need and then paying for it, you are looking at an hour minimum per store.  It doesn’t help that every day is seemingly Black Friday here! 🙂

In fairness, unfamiliarity with store layouts is still a factor for us.  However, when you are finally ready to check out, more often than not your heart sinks when you see the long lines snaking out from the cash registers.  I don’t know if it’s the ratio of open checkout lanes to customers or if the cashiers actually move slower, but for whatever reason, my experience so far is that in general, the stores here don’t seem to be able move customers through the checkout process as fast as they do in the states.

For example, today at the Amigo grocery store in Aguadilla, the aisles weren’t any busier than at the HEB grocery stores in Texas.  If anything, there may have been less customers overall in the store.  However, the checkout lines were a totally different story.  We only had a handful of items, there were only maybe three or four people in front of us, but we STILL had to stand in line for over half an hour!  It may not sound like much, but if you are someone who doesn’t really care for shopping to begin with, it is positively painful.  It seems like this could represent a business opportunity.  Actually, I think all of the minor nuisances here could represent an entrepreneurial opportunity for someone willing to do the hard work and be different.  I might try to compile and share some of the business ideas that have come to mind in a future post.

the lines at amigo

business opportunity?

Anyway, one of the reasons for our “quick” shopping excursion was that some of the friendly and helpful folks on Expat Blog had recommended stores that might carry the hard to find items we were looking for.

I ruled out a couple of the places mentioned because they are too far.  The closest Costco in Bayamon is about 80 miles away.  The closest CVS in Arecibo is still about an hour drive and the TJ Maxx in Hatillo is not much closer.  One store was fairly close by so we wanted to check it out, FreshMart in Aguadilla.

freshmart

a mini whole foods

The good news is that they have pretty much ALL of the hard to find food items we were looking for.  Holly was impressed that they even had a decent supplements and body care section with Dr. Bronner’s soaps and organic shampoos.  It’s like a mini Whole Foods Market.

Unfortunately, the prices seem to match or possibly exceed the prices at Whole Foods or “Whole Paycheck” as it is sometimes affectionately referred to. 🙂  I don’t know for sure because in San Antonio, we could pick up most of these items at Costco.

I put prices from FreshMart for some of the items we were looking for below if you would like to compare:

Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil 14oz – $13.29

– Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour 16oz – $9.19

– Tree of Life Avocado Oil 8oz – $9.89

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour 16oz – $13.39

Shady Maple Farms Grade A Syrup 16.9oz – $21.19

– Chocolove 52% Dark Chocolate Chips 11oz – $6.99

Dagoba Eclipse Organic 87% Dark Chocolate Bar 2oz – $2.79

All in all, we are thrilled to have found a place where we can buy these products locally.

Now our next challenge, find a source for natto… :

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