Hispanic entrepreneurs can take advantage of the competitive retail scene in the Central American tourist spot
Editors note: This article is part three in a three-part series
Id be remiss if I overlooked the retail sector when it comes to establishing a business in beachfront Costa Rican towns such as Tamarindo. This is a bit different from the restaurant scene. Many existing tourist-oriented shops, some of which are in fact owned and operated by local Hispanic businesspeople or ticos, are fiercely competitive. Because they often carry the same goods at similar prices, they come and go quite frequently.
To complicate matters, they often compete with Hispanic street vendors who further snipe sales, especially during the peak season of November through April. The price of their completely legal Cuban cigars, for example, is much less than those in traditional stores.
One way to get around this is to set firmin not slightly inflateditem prices and then generously offer to discount them. Because many gringosAmericans in particularare hesitant to haggle, this approach may increase sales and create word of mouth, with tourists sharing the details of great bargains with one another.
This isnt to say that some of these stores that dont practice this tactic arent successful. This is particularly true of those that front the main drag, which tourists frequent as they head to the beach or to restaurants. Theyre often clogged at the doors with tourists looking at colorfully printed pullovers, sunglasses and locally made potterynot to mention the hats, shot glasses and beach towels emblazoned with the Imperial logo (Imperial being the national beer of choice).
Off the Beaten Path
However, stores that are tucked away in some of the new, gringo-inspired mini-malls tend to be overlooked. Their windows, as well dressed as they arecomplete with those same Imperial-logoed itemsare too far off the road to register to passing tourists. This is true, also, of similar venues located outside the downtown area that require a cara luxury to many, including localsto get to. (Alas, an authorized Apple dealer unfortunately closed because of this.)
But these fringe areas can actually be exploited if precisely targeted stores are located there. Locals, for example, need access to hardware, furniture and computer stores. Finding one now requires a long drive to Liberia, Santa Cruz or San Josescenic but unnecessary trips Ive made to just find a simple wall hanger.