JUAN SANTAMARIA AIRPORT — Spendthrift mothers have found a way to beat Costa Rica’s inflated holiday sales and circumvent pricey import taxes: Travel to Miami on Black Friday.
While Costa Rican stores have picked up on the U.S.’s post-Thanksgiving sales-a-thon, there is no better way to save precious colones during Christmas time than to fly to Miami, Santa Ana-based stay-at-home mom Valeria Soto said. The 30-50% discounts in Costa Rica can’t compare to the 35-55% discounts in Miami, she said.
“I hate waiting,” Soto said as she thumbed through her iPhone 5 in the VIP lounge of the Juan Santamaria Airport. “Last year there was a 30-minute delay. Can you believe they wanted to bump me back to coach?”
Soto and her three closest girlfriends, who do some part-time odds and ends, have been making the trip for the last four years now. Motivated by the substantial discounts found in Miami’s Dolphin Mall and slashed rates at South Beach hotels, Soto can’t justify doing her holiday shopping anywhere else.
“Do the math,” Soto said. “You spend $300 on the flight and then buy $2000 worth of clothing at 40 percent off. That means you save $800, which basically means the flight was free and you have $500 more in your pocket. Wise up, people.”
Soto says that she recommends the 3-hour journey to all Costa Rican mothers to avoid national mall headaches. Mall Multiplaza Escazu just isn’t the same anymore since people from east side San Jose started shopping and working there, she said.
“The guy that sold me shoes there last month was from Desamparados,” she said. “I just can’t feel safe buying there anymore.”
When asked if the deals in Florida are really worth the time and money spent, Soto laughed.
“My housekeeper asked me the same thing, but yes, absolutely worth it,” she said. “After the flight, hotel, taxis, meals, massages and gelatos, you spend just about the same you’d spend in a weekend shopping here.”
Soto says that aside from the discounts, she and her girlfriends truly savor the experience.
“It’s sort of like we’re on Sex and the City,” she giggles. “I just never feel full ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ here in San Jose like I do in Miami.”