How to buy local and verde
By Matt Levin
A visit to Costa Rica demands returning with certain mementos. You can’t leave without a bag of coffee beans or chocolate-covered guayaba jelly, and then there’s that coveted yet fleeting sunburn. But please leave the hackneyed souvenirs behind. There’s no need to buy that dinky hat featuring a local beer brand (Made in China) or an oversized T-Shirt with a smiling frog (Made in Indonesia). Instead seek out local businesses promoting authentic Costa Rican made gifts — which also happen to be contemporary, fashionable and with an emphasis on sustainability and fair trade.
For instance, Verdes y Colores (The Souvenir Museum), located just five minutes from the Juan Santamaría Airport, offers fun knickknacks and apparel, all locally sourced. You can pick up innovative Costa Rican-made gifts such as therapeutic pillows, aromatherapy items and bamboo T-shirts at an assortment of stores throughout the country.
“[Visitors] get to know our culture through these products,” said Verdes y Colores owner Melissa Jiménez, 26. “And when they take these items out of the country, they’re also spreading Costa Rican culture.”
Don’t send the wrong message about Costa Rica. Here’s a guide for what to look out for:
Brand: Trash Lifestyle
What is it? Though the name might sound provocative, these fashionable accessories involve adapting trash into artistic and modern designs. The company makes handbags, purses, wallets and even computer bags
Similar Concept: Recyclart (reciclarte.cr)
What is it? Aromaflor started when a group of women decided to introduce the concept of aromatherapy to Costa Rica through 100 percent organic oils, lotions and other therapeutic products. The products come in lightweight, amber-colored bottles that include everything from jade clay masks to tea tree, eucalyptus and ylang ylang oils to insect repellants.
Similar concepts: Bio Bella Organics (biobellaorganics.com)
What is it? Carao transforms resin into handmade conceptualized pieces of jewelry. Look luminous in their vibrant earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces.
Similar concept: cueropapel&tijera (2212-5516)
What is it? Who knew bamboo was so versatile? Bamboo is a renewable source for T-shirts that are airy, hypoallergenic, pesticide-free, block UV rays, are 100 percent biodegradable and come in modern designs.
Brand: La Pequeña Grana
What is it? This family-run business gets creative with goat milk turning it into all-natural soaps and shampoos. More than a dozen varieties exist, with goat milk as the base, from the tropical (coconut, banana or coffee) to therapeutic (chocolate, cucumber or cinnamon).
Similar concept: Soâ Organics (soaorganics.com)
Stores specializing in contemporary Costa Rican-made products:
Cacao Tessile (2232-1418, cacaotessile.com), Ay Carmela (2201-8348), Eñe (2222-7681), Inmaculada (2222-4232), Eskinearte (2280- 8885), Arteria (2257-1446), Kiosco San José (2258-1829, www.kioscosjo.com), Tienda Verde (8843-8489, tiendaverde.co.cr), deaquí y deallá (2253-4108), Nu Design (nu-designcostarica.com).
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