Yesterday I was assisting a visitor to the area while they were doing a quick shop for staples at the grocery store. The options available included 1 brand of peanut butter and then a choice of either smooth or crunchy. Bread is typically one brand with a few options – but style and type of bread is mostly what some refer to as “air bread”. I commented that one of the things I’ve observed in Costa Rica is there are a limited number of options when looking for something – sometimes there may be only the one option to choose from.
In reviewing my words later that evening I realized while a portion of what I shared may be considered an observation (an irrefutable fact – 1 or 2 options available) how I shared this information was infused with an opinion (“limited” and “only”) – my specific perspective. This got me to thinking…
From a Canadian perspective I am used to having numerous options to choose from when I go to purchase something for the household. Say I wish to purchase a set of kitchen dishes – I could go to a dozen stores all within a short drive and have 10-30 options in each store. Here you may have a few stores – locally and within the surrounding towns, and if you are lucky a store may have 2 or 3 options to choose from. If I were shopping for curtains there are some stores in Canada which have over 50 options to choose from. Locally there is the 1 store with a few options and another farther away which had about 10 different types – 2 options on the type of rod attachment and a few options of colour with maybe 3 makes for variety.
On the other side of things, I have observed, when going to a more densely populated area, there seems to be a lot of options for clothing (the 2 malls I’ve been through in the outskirts of San Jose appeared to be comprised of over 60% clothing stores). Then again, when we were in Uvita we came across a store which had home decor and lights with about 40 choices in table top and floor lamps. Walter surmised for this case it may be to cater to the expat community setting up their homes as there are a large number of new build developments in the area.
When I asked a local expat in the Ojochal area about her #1 challenge of living in Costa Rica – she commented on the lack of choices available for products. Interesting…
After my evening ponder, I realized I had been looking at the availability of purchasing options from what I was personally used to – ultimately stating the observation with my opinionated twist. I wonder how many of us do this?
I started to look at the situation from another tilt. Is it possible the locals do not require so many options? Could it be the item is not a high demand product so availability should be considered a blessing? I cannot actually comment on their perspective as I am not a local. However, I can attempt to rephrase and remove my opinion.
When shopping for housewares in Costa Rica, depending on the item and your location, one may find 1 or a few choices. If I find something close to what I am looking for, I have the opportunity to consider this a blessing, I love deconstructing my words and thoughts. Thanks for tuning in!