We Must Protect Ticos From Themselves: Maxi-Pali (Walmart) in Atenas; Megamall in Alajuela

Once again a vocal few Norte Americanos are rising up to protect the Ticos from themselves. Again, the brouhaha is over expanding shopping selections.

Alajuela is about 20 minutes away from Atenas and is a major bus hub for intercity transit. It also is the hospital for the Ticos in the area that used the socialized medicine. It is always a hub-bub.

AlajuelaMall Pali_MegaSuper

It’s soon will get more hubby-bubby as the Largest. Mall. In. Central. America. (echo effect on…) will be built there. Complete with Ferris Wheel.

It is the City Mall, which will be fully built in November 2015, the Corporation announced Thursday Lady Lee, project developer.

Leonel Feoli, CEO of City Mall Costa Rica, said the building will have 200 thousand square meters of building, more than 300 stores and 2,600 parking spaces.

In San Jose, there is a gigantic mall filled with stores of all varieties. Multiplaza is similar to many North American malls – except the signs are usually in Spanish (sometimes not!)

Atenas apparently is going to go thru a growth spurt to – as ground has been broken for a new Wal-mart operation called Maxi-Pali. Wal-Mart already has a presence in Atenas with two grocery stores: side-by-side. Pali and MegaSuper. Correction: MegaSuper is not owned by Walmart. I’m guessing one, if not both, will be shuttered. But the shopping culture is different here.

Any town of any size has a central market that is chock full of very small “kiosks” or “pop-up” stores. It’s not unusual to see four meat markets selling only chicken at an intersection of aisles. And apparently they all have developed a loyal following for the butchers who own the shops. Same goes for produce. Ticos will walk past six meat markets or produce stands to shop at their favorite.

Atenas went through a major change for grocery shopping when a new CoopeAtenas (co-pay as it’s known locally) super.market opened.



It is by far the most modern store in Atenas – wide aisles, good lighting, good ventilation, lots of parking – something the other supermercados don’t have. Ticos shop there. Gringos shop there. But the other stores with narrow aisles, bad lighting, and no ventilation (Pali and MegaSuper) are still packed with Ticos on shopping day.

It will be interesting to see how Maxi Pali impacts the shopping culture in Atenas. In the U.S. and Canada some people still freak out when a Wal-mart announces expansion.

One thing is for sure: Ticos don’t freak out over anything.

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We Must Protect Ticos From Themselves: Maxi-Pali (Walmart) in Atenas; Megamall in Alajuela — 5 Comments

  1. Expats are always complaining about every new thing that comes along. You know, they’re the first to call Costa Rica a “third world country”, but the Ticos don’t *want* to be a third world country. They want the things & places that we left behind. If you don’t like Walmart, don’t shop there, if you don’t like McDonald’s, etc., don’t eat there. The Ticos are rushing to be just like us!

  2. Very true – but I do wish that they would observe what the junk food has done to our health.
    If there was no demand … No supply.
    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Interesting post. I don’t know what I think about it. When I left CR in 2006 Multiplaza was certainly there and I found it came in handy often. On the other hand, I do hate to see CR becoming another Miami — tropical, overdeveloped, noisy, crowded, etc.

    Nevertheless, what Jo Ann says is also quite true. We go to places like CR because we want to get away from many of these things at home. But that doesn’t mean that the people who are natives of those places don’t want those things — usually quite to the contrary. And the expats don’t have to participate, they don’t have to shop at Costco and Maxi Pali, etc. They can live out in the country and I did outside of Puriscal.

    By the same token, Goinglikesixty is also right. Many of the negative consequences of our life style in the U.S. will, without a doubt, become endemic in CR to the degree that life there becomes more like ours.

    It’s a tricky question.
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  4. @Martin: absolutely a tough question… one that small towns all across the U.S. dealt with decades ago. Many of the main streets didn’t survive because shoppers had no loyalty to small merchants. I think Atenas is different in this respect: I sense a lot of shop-loyalty. But like other culture-changes in CR, this may change too over with the next generation.