Some of the country’s finest shopping districts are found in Oaxaca. The city and the surrounding towns are very well known for their handcrafted pottery, weavings, and woodcarvings. Check out old-fashioned street-side shops, rural villages, and sprawling outdoor markets for signature goods. Oaxaca shopping is a pleasurable experience so prepare your pesos.
You can buy Oaxacan crafts throughout Mexico, but the most authentic crafts are found in the colonial city of its surrounding towns. They are also less expensive (about 20%-60% less) than the ones sold elsewhere. In general, markets offer better bargains than stores, but the latter boasts a better selection. Higher-end stores even offer international shipping services.
It is a wonderful cultural experience to visit villages for some market browsing. Walking around the ambient cobbled streets and popping into galleries and shops is also a brilliant idea to enjoy your Oaxacan afternoon. We recommend that you do both.
Oaxaca has two busy markets. The one is located south of the Zócalo, while the newer market, Abastos Market, is 10 blocks west. The advantage of shopping in markets is that you get to buy directly from the artists, learning more about the crafts by talking to the ones who make them. Another advantage is that prices are considerably lower. Spend more time digging as it is part of the fun of Oaxaca shopping.
Shops and galleries
You can find most of the shops and galleries in the area between Zócalo and Santo Domingo. Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca is a huge shop where you can high-quality and reasonably priced crafts. Another great shop is Galería Indigo. Located in a restored mansion, it features graphics, paintings, ceramics, and other works made by Oaxacan artists. If you are looking for a hip craft store, then Blackbox is the place to be.
Make the most of your Oaxaca shopping experience by going beyond the city proper. The villages of Arrazola, Etla, Ejutla, La Union, Mihuatlan, Pinotepa Nacional, San Martin Tlacolula, Tlaxiaco, and Zaachila make worthy side trips if you are looking for more authentic Oaxacan crafts. Guelavia and Papalutla are famous for their baskets and the Valley of Teotitlan is best-known for its traditional fine wool rugs.
An authentic Oaxacan shopping experience does not mean hitting high-end establishments and spending a fortune. Instead, you are better off looking for rare treasures at small shops and boutiques. This colonial capital boasts a rich history and a diverse culture that dates back several thousand years. This is most evident in the city’s impressive hand-made arts and crafts sold on every corner. Here are some of the top Oaxaca shops that you should visit if you are itching to shop:
One of Oaxaca’s newest craft shops, Blackbox fuses crafts, art, and creative design. It is perhaps the hippest craft store in the city, featuring works by younger artists. This gallery-like boutique sells avant-garde objects made using ancient techniques. You will fall in love with earrings and bracelets woven from straw, light fixtures made from organic-cotton paper pulp, and handmade woven wool bags. The prices are reasonable, considering that 60% goes to the artisans. Address: 5 de Mayo 412, between Constitución and Abasolo.
Jarcieria El Arte Oaxaqueño
Since 1961, this shop has been selling an interesting mix of woven baskets, traditional toys, drums, tin frames, and lampshades. The store gives a small brochure that contains information about the history and customs of Oaxaca with each purchase. It is a small store full of treasures and surprises. We suggest you visit Jarcieria El Arte Oaxaqueño before going to the Mercado de Artesanias. The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am-8 pm. Address: Mina 317 at the corner of J.P. Garcia
La Mano Magica
La Mano Magica is one of the most visited Oaxaca shops. You will see here excellent rugs and other woven products. It also sells stylish curios and interesting paintings. In the backrooms of this impressive gallery, you will see pieces of regional traditional art. Shipping is available. It is worth a visit before heading to Teotitlán to see how weavers work. Address: Alcalá 203, opposite the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo.
Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca
This shop is operated by a cooperative of women who are all involved in the production, from purchasing raw materials to crafting stunning pieces, and selling their products. The quality and selection are exceptional and the prices are affordable. Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm. Address: 5 de Mayo 204.
Plaza Comercial de las Etnias
This shopping complex is also a great place to buy regional crafts, chocolate, clothes, and souvenirs. Many of the vendors who were previously selling their stuff at the Plazuela de Carmen Alto now sell their merchandise here. Address: Garcia Vigil #304.
Haggling for prices is acceptable in street stands or outdoor markets, but it is not customary to negotiate prices in more established Oaxaca shops. Just so you know, most products in Mexico have a 15% tax. But this is not so bad since handicrafts sold in the City cost about 20% to 60% less compared to products sold elsewhere.
Oaxaca is not only about visiting ancient ruins and appreciating architecture, but it is also about experiencing the city’s market life. If you love good markets, then Oaxaca will not disappoint you. The city has all the hustle and bustle, the sights and sounds, the smell of the freshest native food, and the products you would never find in other cities. The city gives you the thrill of bargaining, making your market experience exciting. Below are some of the most popular Oaxaca markets:
The sprawling open-air Abastos Market offers an enchanting shopping experience that defies mere description. You will find here luscious tropical fruits, turkeys, herbs, baskets, rugs, cheeses, tortillas, and even grasshopper dishes. Vendors also sell bread, chocolate, ceramics, sandals, jewelry, hammocks, and many other signature items. On Saturdays, you will see Trique Indian weavers selling intricate and beautiful textiles and rugs all the way from the world-famous Teotitlán del Valle.
Benito Juárez Market
Benito Juárez Market is the oldest and one of the largest Oaxaca markets. Located just south of the Zocalo near San Juan Dios church, it was built in 1893 and was named after a former Mexican President. This is a great place to buy flowers, quesillo, honey, cacao beans, and jars of mole sauce. You will also see here vendors selling barbequed grasshoppers. The market’s side streets of 20 de Noviembre and Las Casas sell all kinds of goods like Christmas tree ornaments, hammocks, baskets, religious figurines, and huipiles.
Mercado de Artesañas
This handicrafts market is located 4 blocks southwest of the Zócalo on Zaragoza cor. J.P. García. It is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm and sells handicrafts, leather goods, knives and swords, and pottery. It is also a nice place to buy native textiles such as blouses, dresses, bedding, table linens, rugs, and shawls.
This small but charming Oaxaca market is located on Insurgentes between Murguía and Morelos. Open every day from 8 am to 7 pm, this market mainly sells flowers and food like cheese, bread, chocolate, meat and poultry, fish, and grains. La Merced is a nice market to find the cheapest mescal, tequila, tamales, and tortillas.