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This page provides information on the national chain stores that stock many of the essential items necessary for setting up a house or office. These include foodstuffs, basic furniture, home furnishings (curtains, carpets, cushions), white goods and electrical appliances (fridges, stoves, kettles, washing machines and tumble dryers, dishwashers, TVs and computers), and office equipment.
Costa Rica's Yellow Pages (in Spanish), in addition to store websites, can provide useful information about store locations, hours, and contact details.
Currently the American supermarket Walmart owns over half of the grocery retailers in Central America and has steadily been converting Costa Rican national stores into Walmarts. The Walmart-owned hypermarkets and supermarkets tend to have a wider variety of imported products than local stores and stay open longer. However, for those who prefer nationally-owned and more economic supermarkets, most towns still have a selection of national supermarkets.
Most supermarkets in Costa Rica are open Monday to Saturday from 08:00 to 21:00, with limited hours on Sundays. It is common to charge extra for the purchase of plastic bags.
Pali, now owned by Walmart, is the most widely-found grocery store in all of Costa Rica, with over 100 locations. Many Costa Ricans do their basic grocery shopping here, since it has lower prices on national products such as rice, beans, sugar, vegetables, oil and flour. It does not sell furniture or domestic appliances.
MaxiPali is another Walmart-owned and operated grocery store that generally has a wider selection of goods than Pali, while still keeping costs low.
MasxMenos (in Spanish) provides slightly more choice of groceries than Pali, but tends to be more expensive. It has around 20 stores, located primarily in the areas around San José.
HiperMas/Walmart is a hypermarket which stocks anything from furniture and domestic appliances to sliced meat, fresh vegetables, and wines. The HiperMas chain is in the process of changing the name of its stores to Walmart. There are six HiperMas stores in the country located in Escazú, San Sebastián, Guadalupe, Heredia and Curridabat y Cartago.
PriceSmart is a hypermarket that sells products ranging from luggage and sports equipment to computers and jewellery. It has five locations in Costa Rica: Escazú, Zapote, Herredia, Llorente, and Alajuela. The international chain attempts to keep costs low by requiring a membership card to shop at their stores. There is an annual cost for membership, which varies depending on whether the card holder is a business or private individual.
In addition to the furniture and appliances sold at the hypermarkets listed above (HiperMas/Walmart and PriceSmart), most towns have individually-owned furniture stores. These can be found in the Costa Rican Yellow Pages, or just by asking around. It is also relatively common in Costa Rica to commission a carpenter (carpintero) at a local workshop (taller) to build simple, but functional bespoke furniture. Listed below are two of the national chains that can be found in most medium/large-sized towns.
El Gallo Mas Gallo (in Spanish) is the most well-known furniture and appliance store in Costa Rica, with around a dozen stores throughout the country. It carries all kinds of household items from coffee makers and ovens to sofas and beds.
La Artistica (in Spanish) carries more luxurious furniture lines than El Gallo Mas Gallo and is consequently more costly. There are only four locations at present: San José, Curridabat, Pavas, and Liberia.
Most towns in Costa Rica have a selection of local hardware stores (ferreterias) that can be found in the Yellow Pages. Listed below are some of the national chains. All websites are in Spanish only.
El Lagar sells a variety of home improvement products – from gardening to furniture to building materials. It has 12 stores, the majority of which are located in the Central Valley.
Abonos Agro sells building materials. There are seven stores: five in San José, one in Perez Zeledón, and one in Limonal.
EPA is a Venezuelan home improvement store located in San José. EPA is slightly more expensive than the other home improvement stores, but may offer more variety of merchandise.
Individually-run office supply stores (librerias) are extremely common in all the towns of Costa Rica. They focus mainly on educational supplies such as notebooks and writing tools, but they also carry plenty of other office utilities, generally at low prices. Below is a list of some national office-supply chains; all websites are in Spanish only.
Office Depot, the USA-based chain, has five stores located in San José. They sell all manner of office supply goods, from paper products to computers to office furniture.
El Universal is the largest Costa Rican-owned and operated office supplies chain. They have seven stores; six located in the Central Valley and one in Liberia.
Libreria Lehmann carries a wide selection of books as well as general office supplies. They have several stores in the Central Valley area.