The other night, while shopping for gifts for my sons’ birthday party, we went to Farmacia Arrocha, which is similar to a Walgreens or CVS in the States, but in my opinion, much better. Where CVS or Walgreens has a small toy aisle, usually with generic toys that were never sold during the late night infomercials, Arrocha has several aisles of real toys (Barbies, Max Steele, Transformers, skateboards, coloring books) plus, of course, dishes, pots & pans, DVD’s, magazines (sometimes books and magazines in English, depending on which branch you visit), soaps, tons of Christmas ornaments (during that time of the year), and of course medicines and vitamins.
We happen to have an Arrocha right down the street from my house, and I have to fight tooth & nail with my wife to keep her out of that place. She’ll go in to pick up deodorant, and two hours later come out with a new perfume, a wallet, a purse, body sprays, jewelry, you name it.
Anyway, I've mentioned before that Los Pueblos outdoor shopping center is one of the cheapest places to find pretty much anything you might possibly want or need. The Farmacia Arrocha in Los Pueblos is one of the best in the city. It definitely has one of the largest toy sections. So we stopped by Arrocha while we were out picking up party supplies, just to find a few toys.
It wasn’t until after we paid that I remembered how great it is to shop in Panama. In the States, if I were to buy a few toys for my kid’s birthday, I’d also have to pay at the minimum $5 for a roll of wrapping paper, then buy the tape, and the bow that would go on top of it. Then…you have to hope that you don’t run out of wrapping paper or tape. In Panama, at least at Arrocha (and a few other stores), when you purchase something, you can take it over to the gift wrap counter and have it wrapped for free. Usually you have to take a ticket and wait in the sitting area until your number is called, but still, it’s well worth the wait.
We had all of our presents wrapped, with a bow, for free. This is any time of the year. I know in the States you see that kind of thing in the malls and in some stores during the Christmas holiday, but at Arrocha, it could be the middle of June and you can have all of your gifts wrapped. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a birthday, or a barmitsfa, or a wedding…they’ll wrap it, no questions asked…as long as you show them your receipt. I usually tip the person who wraps my gift $1, and they seem very surprised to receive it. I’ve never seen anyone else tip them, but I figure, even if I’m broke, she’s working a lot harder than I am at the moment, probably for very little pay, so an extra buck for a break-time soda is probably appreciated.
Thanks for reading,