Friday, January 20, 2012

The Chedraui Report

During our November/December trip to Isla Mujeres, Chedraui opened its new superstore on the island.  From the minute we arrived, all the buzz was about the approaching opening of the store.    One morning in early December when we were headed to the beach, we ran into our neighbors from the condo above us down on the corner.  They were walking to Chedraui because they'd heard by way of the island jungle drums that the grand opening was that morning.

Craig and I gave each other a puzzled look because when we'd walked by that morning, a solitary man was jack hammering concrete in the empty parking lot.  On the way into town in the taxi, the driver brought up Chedraui and told us the big opening was the next day.  Lots of free stuff!  Everywhere we went, people were clamoring about the big day and the date was always different!

Personally, Craig and I would go out of our way to avoid the crowd that might result from rumors of free stuff on a little island in Mexico, so we waited a day or two after the actual opening to check it out.  So here's my Chedraui report. 

Chedraui sits across the street from Isla's field of dreams.  

The actual store is on the second floor, with a parking garage underneath.  The shopping area itself is big for the island, but probably not even half the space of a Walmart Superstore here in the U.S.  

I totally understand the excitement surrounding the opening of the store because it just makes life on the island so much more convenient.  For example, on almost every trip, I either lose or forget an essential item and spend a lot of time walking from one store to the next trying to find a place that sells it.  For example, on our June trip, various makeup items disappeared from my hotel room. On this last trip, I forgot tweezers and ran out of my acid reflux medicine.  In the past, I've searched the island for days trying to replace those type of necessities.  Once Chedraui opened, the selection was right there, and the prices were reasonable.

Groceries, pharmacy, liquor, a huge bakery, sporting goods, toys, motorcycles, beach towels, underwear, clothes, appliances, electronics -- it's all there in a one-stop trip.  And the prices are affordable.  Many of the items that used to require a trip to Walmart or Chedraui in Cancun are now available on Isla, so that saves a day at the beach and the 140 pesos per person roundtrip ferry ride.

I snapped some photos in the produce department of items that were hard for me to identify.  I think the above photo is dried passion flowers.

And some of these are a mystery to me, so help me out!

Moving into the sporting goods area, I noticed some puzzling items I haven't seen in the U.S.

I couldn't decide if these miracle support garments force you to sweat the fat off, or if they're designed to be worn under clothes to squeeze the excess in.  Of course, where the squeezing ends, the bulge erupts, so I'm not sure it'd be a wondrous solution to hide middle age spread.  And the garish red would surely show through a light-colored top.

The same question applies to the bottoms.  I'm not saying I couldn't benefit from something like this if it actually worked, but that neoprene stuff looks itchy!  Not to mention I've worn neoprene knee braces before, and I can't say it resulted in thinner knees.

This is the area of the store that surprised me the most.  Olive bars were the rage when we lived in Bellevue, Washington.  They came and went at many of the local grocery stores when the owners discovered people just didn't buy that many olives.  Then in the past few years in Phoenix, we've seen them installed in the chain stores near us.  And now -- on Isla -- the olive bar!  I'm curious to see if the olive bar will bring in enough pesos to justify the floor space.  The store also has a good selection of cheeses.  It was impressive!

And finally, here are the Coleman foldup beach chairs which Chedraui supposedly does not carry and never even stocked.  So I guess you'll only see it here on this blog.  The mythical beach chairs.   I'm glad I found this photo because naysayers almost had me convinced I was crazy!  : )

We still used the nearby tiendas for quick snack runs and the items we always buy there, but it's nice to know on future trips that we won't have to spend a lot of time searching for items we've forgotten to pack.  And, if we're staying farther out on the island, we won't have to go all the way into El Centro to use an ATM!  It's a good thing!


Ann said...

Thanks for the report. Not sure when we'll make it down there--have friends that are picking us up at the ferry when we arrive & they will have a golf cart--but they're leaving the day after we arrive--maybe we can squeeze a trip in Sat. afternoon!

Life's a Beach! said...

Ann, it's also an easy cab ride. Shouldn't cost you more than 25 pesos each way, and there are cabs lined up outside Chedraui on the street.

went coastal said...

How did I miss the olive bar?? I am an olive fanatic, they are essential to my daily diet. Those are flor de jamaica,... probably the most popular agua fresca is jamaica, which we call hibiscus tea. Those cones are sugar and the bamboo-like things are sugar cane. gonna post this link on The Board...some one just asked about Chedraui. I bet those chairs were bought and not replaces. Waitin for more pillows...they were in this weeks ad flyer, but none in store. Gonna go search for that olive bar!! I'm on a first name basis w the appliance guy...bought two frigs & and a/c in the past couple weeks. Because the "old" ones were 5 years old. Salty 'round here,....and worth every grain of salt and rust.

went coastal said...

for more info on the cones of brown sugar, search piloncillo. The pod thangs are tamarind..I think I wrote about that on my food blog. I've forgotten the name of the fruit..will look next visit. The olives are in the deli area?...the first section of the grocery area, past the appliances?

Life's a Beach! said...

wentcoastal, the olives are in the vicinity of the cheeses and bakery -- that side of the store. I also saw Ghiradelli brownie mixes, which made me wish I'd had an oven!!!

Anonymous said...

So does a taxi ride to Chedraui cost more than the 11 pesos it normally costs to go to non tourist areas?

At Christmas, the Super was out of Kleenex for a week (maybe more) and I had a terrible time finding them at the little tiendas. First time that had happened to me. I almost went to Chedraui just for Kleenex but eventually found some at Mirtita.

went coastal said...

Mertita's is closed/closing and becoming a clothing store. Taxis are only 11 p for Islenos. I pay 25p to/from Chedraui..25p (or maybe 23p) is the lowest rate for foreigners.

Life's a Beach! said...

Anon, wentcoastal's right on the money. Somewhere around 25 pesos each way would be the rate to Chedraui from El Centro. My advice is to not go to the taxi stand. We avoided it after #96 held us up for 40 pesos from the main cab stand to the Soggy Peso. We were staying out at Lol Beh in the colonias (south of Chedraui) and usually paid 25 to 30 pesos for the ride home from El Centro. If we went to the cab stand, they'd quote at least 40 pesos. People who checked in next to us were charged 100 pesos from the cab stand.

Nancy said...

The yellow fruits look like nances.

Lynda said...

Hi Becky! We were there on opening day as well .... with camera of course! By the way - we cook our Ghiradelli Brownie Mix on our BBQ. Works just fine! We also have Angel Food Cake mixes muled down from Canada by willing friends - and bake those on the BBQ as well. No oven in our house! Too hot especially in the summer months. Cheers Lynda

Life's a Beach! said...

Nancy, I know why you remember the name of those nances. Thanks!

Lynda, I'll be over next trip for some of those barbecued brownies! We also don't use our oven in the summer months because it heats up the house and we pay peak electric rates during the hours we'd use it. Maybe Craig will have to throw some brownies on the barbie! LOL