Buying food in the Dominican Republic. If you have come from the US or Europe, buying food in the Dominican Republic can be quite different from what you are used to. Some even classify buying food here as a skill. Something that takes learning and there are plenty of theories to how it is best done.

If you have never visited the Dominican Republic, you are probably thinking, “How do you figure? What’s so hard about going to the supermarket, finding what you want and buying it?”

If you are in a larger town, it may be that simple, but if you are in a smaller town; there might not even be any supermarkets. In which case you will be buying things at a lot of colmados or in the market place. (a colmado is a little corner market that many times is no bigger that 10’ by 10’)

What You Are Dealing With

Colmados and venders in the marketplace are normally owned by and single person or family and the vast majority of their products are highly negotiable. This means two things. The first one is good news; you can pretty much always get the price down a little lower. And Two, not so good; they are going to try and the most they can out of you.

You need to be especially careful with the second if you have lighter colored skin. If you do, many assume that you are from the US and that you have more money, which means they are going to give you a higher price.

Know Your Stuff

This is where a good knowledge of what things cost comes in handy. If you don’t know what something is worth, you don’t know what is a good price and what is a bad price. Therefore bargaining is hard.

Like any country there is not a single nation wide price for most products, so we can’t tell you exactly what things will cost, but we can give you some basic rules.

Some Basic Tips

1. Number one and the most important. Learn to laugh, you are going to get ripped off while you are learning what things are worth. It is just going to happen, so assume it will happen and get over it, it is usually only a matter of being out a couple bucks.

2. Buy the same product from different people. Many of the times they will not have the same exact price, but by doing this you can see what is a good price and what is bad price, you can also see who is going to normally give you a fair price and who is going to have the tendency to over charge.

3. Learn to pick out what is the good produce. This way you will make sure you don’t get something that is not quite ripe or has problems. Also if the fruit or vegetable has parts that have gone bad or have problems, you can usually get them for a much cheaper price and use the remaining fruit, which is completely fine.

4. Pay attention to the season. Like the US, if a fruit is out of season, it is not going to be near as good and it will cost far more.

5. And don’t be afraid to bargain. This doesn’t just go for food. It goes for just about anything in this country, Taxi rides, furniture, labor, you name it. Pretty much all of it is negotiable. So don’t be afraid to bargain or even walk away and find someone else if you don’t like the deal.

So have some fun with it and I hope that helps you in your adventures of buying food in the Dominican Republic.