Shopping in Jamaica is an experience in and of itself. The island’s vendors peddle wares of all kinds, from local hand-made crafts to imported designer watches and perfumes, all at prices that can seem like a steal.
When shopping in Jamaica, many travelers will take part of the local tradition of bargaining. If you choose to do so, be sure not to approach a vendor regarding an item unless you intend to buy that item. Ask the price, and then act disappointed and begin to walk away. If the vendor wants to lower the price of the item, you will find that he or she will suddenly give a special, lowered price, a discount, he might say, for a visitor to his country. At this time, determine how much you would like to pay for the item and suggest a price lower than that. Eventually, you and your salesperson will compromise somewhere in the middle. Just remember: Don’t give up!
There are definitely items available in Jamaica worth bargaining for. Local artists create amazing crafts, whether for gifts or personal use. From paintings of local scenery, such as sunsets, landscapes and beaches, to wood relief carvings of local people and sights, local art is unique and will spice up any home, whether it’s yours or a friend’s.
Exclusive to Jamaica are high-quality woven crafts, available in Ocho Rios and other Craft Markets on the island. Baskets, purses, hats, and other finely handcrafted items are available in a wide variety of colors, but the most commonly found will be the three bright Rastafarian colors, yellow, green, and red, that just shout” Jamaica.”
Items available at duty-free savings are in abundance in the duty-free shops in Jamaica. U.S. visitors can save 25 percent to 30 percent on popular items such as brand name crystal and china (including Waterford crystal), brand name watches and perfumes, and brand name leather products (such as Fendi and Liz Claiborne). Another important thing to remember is that in order for shopping items to be considered “duty-free,” they must be paid for in foreign currency. American dollars will be accepted almost everywhere, and many locations accept major credit cards.
Certain items, such as coral and turtle products, are illegal under current Jamaican law, given the damage to the environment caused by their popularity. Although these items may still be found, purchasing and carrying them through the airport could cause unnecessary difficulty in going through customs, both in Jamaica and the United States. Additionally, Cuban cigars, though also readily available, will be confiscated during any U.S. customs inspections.