There’s little holiday spirit at the second-hand stores

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
This is one of the many outlets that will buy, sell
or pawn merchandise.

Christmas is in 27 days.  As people continue to shop for gifts for friends and loved ones, everyone has one question in mind, “Where are the deals?”

This question may prompt shoppers to browse through local compra y ventas, stores that allow persons to buy and sell used items.

Yet, a quick look in these stores will lead to disappointment as the products are outdated and overpriced.

For example, a 22-inch LCD television at Segundita de Santa Marta, north of Parque Merced, costs around 170,000 colons or $340.  This same size television sells at U. S. Walmart stores for prices as low as $129, depending on brand.

Also, compare this with the Walmart black Friday price of limited supply 50-inch televisions for a little less than $300, and this is hardly thebuen precio that sales clerks rave about.

Gaming systems are always high on children’s Santa list, and a Playstation 3 with one controller is available for sale in the El Boulevard window for 180,000 colons.  In Gringo terms, that is $360, $61 more than a bundle of the system, two controllers and a game will cost in the United States.

On the technology theme, children and adults of this new age want to have high technology phones and music listening devices to keep up with the Jones.

Popular choices are the Apple products which can be found at Presta Tica.  The store sells third generation iPod touches, the one without a camera, for 30,000 colons or $60.  This may sound good, until a person realizes that the iOS software is incompatible with many of the apps in the iStore.  The new owner would undoubtedly have to buy an upgrade to get full use of the device.

The only product that bridges the gap is the iPhone 4, available in the same store for 225,000 colons or $450.  However, according to one U.S. woman, in order to use the phone in Costa Rica the owner must pay $80 to unlock the device then pay for the appropriate connection plan.

Already over $500, one is better off buying the new iPhone 5 with a contract in the States or getting a Costa Rican device from the suppliers.

If the camera is the important feature, all the casas de empeños or pawn shops sell point-and-shoots that range from qualities of 5 megapixals to 10 megapixals. They are priced from $60 to $140.

Within three blocks of the Alajuela bus station five compra y venta outlets can be found, but only one sells digital SLR cameras.  This store, La Merced, had an older Cannon Rebel with a 35-mm lens for $500 and a Nikon D100 for $800.

Factor in that the Nikon model has been discontinued since 2005, and it is hardly worth the investment.  As for lenses, only Tamron and Sigma brands can be found, and they are $140 no matter the size.

The scratches on the body of all the cameras gave a new meaning to gently used.

If something really catches the eye, one can try to bargain with the clerks and hope to get lucky.  However, one look in these places will cause shoppers to turn their backs and say, “The deals are indeed not here.”

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