The Costco of El Salvador


Remember how I was all, How am I going to live without Costco in El Salvador? Well, the short answer is: I’m not. Because there is a store in El Salvador that is practically identical to Costco: PriceSmart.costco el salvador, pricesmart, grocery store el salvadorOh, those wide aisles.Admittedly, we could have figured this out long ago and in fact, Kail had perused the PriceSmart website prior to our departure. But we were still skeptical.Until we took a trip to PriceSmart last week, courtesy of our awesome sponsors who picked us up, drove us there, waited while we filled our gigantic cart to the max and checked out, allowed us to load up their car to capacity with bulk purchases and drove us home.It was just like our old stomping grounds in Arlington: We purchased several pounds of chicken breast, pork chops and ground beef; bulk quantities of paper towels, toilet paper, aluminum foil and saran wrap; dozens of Coke Lights (IMO, superior to both Diet Coke and  Coke Zero); and bags of fruits and vegetables that would be a challenge to eat before they became overripe.And yet, some things were off: A dozen paper towels cost $23! Apparently there is not a market for using and disposing of tons and tons of paper products here; Salvadorans choose the more economical and environmentally friendly method of reusing cloth towels and rags for cleaning.Obviously, my beloved Kirkland Signature brand was nowhere to be found. And while the food court menu offered almost all of the exact same selections (see below), there were some differences in price (no $1.50 hot-dog-and-20-ounce-soda deal) and offerings.costco food court, pricesmart food court, el salvador costcoHot dog: check. Pizza: check. Frozen yogurt: check.We didn’t sample any of the selections given that our sponsors were patiently waiting for us, but it looks like this food court has all the staples, albeit for slightly higher prices compared to the U.S.We’ve only been at post for just under two weeks, but I’ve had three different grocery-shopping experiences: Super Selectos (standard grocery store, much like Safeway, and even includes many American products), PriceSmart and Walmart (just like the Walmarts at home). We are incredibly lucky to be at a post that has so many familiar foods and products. I’m sure we’ll run into an ingredient or brand that we’re unable to get here in-country, but we’ll probably be able to find a good substitution or order it online.I am waiting for the proverbial culture-shock shoe to drop. Until then, you can find me testing out free samples at PriceSmart.Tell me: What’s your favorite grocery store? (I hate to break it to you, but unless your answer is Wegman’s, you are wrong.)

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

16 thoughts on “The Costco of El Salvador

  1. When I discovered the Costco in Taipei, it felt like a temporary American refuge. We bought tons of beef, buns and all the fixings for an American style BBQ. Amazing!I’m a fan of Wegman’s but they don’t have them in DC!


  2. I don’t usually go to Wegman’s because other grocery stores are more conveniently located, but I adore it. I went on a tour of the flagship Wegman’s store in NY for my job and it was a thing of beauty. And oh! The samples! Not to mention the amazing customer service!


    1. Yeah, we didn’t make it out to Wegman’s that often because it was all the way in Fairfax (or Woodbridge). Safeway was usually my go-to store when we lived in DC, but when we moved to Arlington it was shoppers. The farther away from the city you go, the better the grocery stores! I would love to see the flagship Wegman’s.


  3. I’ll be thinking of you when I make a trip to Costco this weekend. You’re right Kirkland brand is the best, everything from contact lens solution to the kid’s pajamas.


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