Shopping options in Cuba are rather limited by western standards. A network of
state-operated stores ( tiendas ) and supermarkets ( supermercados ) provide house-
hold goods. Most of the locals purchase consumables and food from state-oper-
ated food depots called bodegas . Local markets, called agromercados , sell fresh
produce. Street vendors sell some clothes, shoes, jewelry, art and knickknacks.
Butcher shops called carniceros , sell meat. Venta Libre depots sell a similar selec-
tion of goods as bodegas , but at a slightly higher price and are open to both locals
Important Note: Remember to bring your own plastic or reusable bags when shop-
ping. Large state supermarkets and gas stations will usually provide you with a
plastic bag after your purchase, but most other small stores will not. Sometimes
there will be a bag seller in the front of small stores or markets selling plastic bags
( jabas ) for 1 peso (MN) each.
Shopping Centers and Supermarkets
Shopping centers and supermarkets can be found in all cities and towns. Although
locals shop at these locations, prices are usually on par or even above prices
charged in North American or European stores. The items are always priced in
Shopping centers have a look that is similar to western style department stores, of-
fering a relatively wide selection of household goods. Supermarkets are generally
smaller, but still offer a good selection of processed foods, drinks, alcohol, pack-
aged meats and frozen items. Generally, the only people who can actually afford to
shop on a regular basis at these locations are affluent Cubans and foreigners. Gas
stations also usually have a small convenience store located on the premises
which offers a selection of packaged foods, frozen meats, alcohol and soaps.
Prices and selection of goods are mostly uniform throughout all supermarkets,
shopping centers and convenience stores.
Small stores, called tiendas or puntos de ventas (points of sale), offer a selection
of basic consumables at identical prices to supermarkets. These shops are
scattered throughout Cuban cities and towns, and the smallest ones are usually
housed entirely within shipping containers placed by the side of the road. These
miniature stores contain a surprisingly varied product selection and are usually
staffed by two salespeople who interact with customers through a window cut out
of the side of the container.
Moneda National Stores
These are stores which sell a small selection of household goods in Moneda Na-
cional. The stores will generally sell some soaps, construction products, and a