Treasure Hunting in Belize and a Trip to the Office

If you live here or plan to move here then consider this: Unless you leave often or have a herd of mules coming in, you will need to buy clothing at some point. While we do have a few new clothing stores in San Pedro, I know several people who will agree that the second hand shop win hands down for name brand choices. You do, however, have to be in the mood for a treasure hunting adventure when shopping.

I used to go to yard sales and “seconds” shop with my dad as a kid so I grew up with an eye for finding quality gently used things at remarkable prices. I was introduced to the art of the used clothing industry on a deeper level several years back when I lived in downtown Toronto. My old neighborhood has a great vintage clothing district, and since I was friends with a few shop owners, I even got to visit the factory or “Pick” as they called it. Believe it or not there is an art to finding the right stuff, beyond just knowing quality brands. When looking at jeans it was scanning for Levis with a big “E” that would be similar to hitting triple cherries on the slots. At the time (15 years back) they could net as high as $500 and were a real treasure to find. The pieces in those shops had all been handpicked and often there was a reflection of the owner in the store. At my friend Darcy’s shop, it was plaid shirts and Carhart coats. The boys I hung out with at the time had great collections of both. Mine was vintage dresses and aprons – Lucille Ball style.

In Belize, they get bales of clothing shipped in on the mainland. My friend Dennis has friends who imports the bales and then has a sorting station to sell by the pound. As the week goes on their pricing goes down.  On Ambergris Caye, smaller bales get delivered to the shops on Saturday’s and often the stores are busy with shoppers wanting to get first pick as soon as the goods are put out.

In true treasure hunting spirit, you never know what you’ll find, but there are definitely opportunities to score well-known labels such as Old Navy, LL. Bean, Anne Taylor, Tommy Bahamas, sometimes original Hawaiian shirts, and if you are really lucky, Lulu Lemon.

Over the years I have scored many great deals here, and my outfits led me to becoming an occasional personal shopper for a few girls on Ambergris Caye, one in Corozal, and soon to be two in Placencia. Sue, who was one of the first that I have shopped for, asked me if I was willing to take a bunch of girls out on a shopping excursion. I was “all in” because after all, treasure hunting is always more fun when you have someone to share your score with, and with 7 of us there was a bunch to share.

Gap, Ralph Lauren and Armani Exchange were among the labels we scored on our travels which were chock-full of irresistible deals. We had a priceless moment at store number 3 when Sue walked up to a rack out front of the store and picked out a dress with the same print that Linda was wearing – what are the odds?

Shopping works up a thirst, and not only that, the shoppers were also hungry. So we decided on food at The Office since we were in the area.

Our spending range was $4 – $17 BZD, but those who spent more kept pulling piece after piece out of their reusable shopping bags when we did our show and tell at lunch. We all oohed over each others finds and our conversation was all over the map, ranging from shopping and Kardashian craziness to personal opinions on men’s facial hair.

If you have not been to The Office it’s a great place over the water on the lagoon-side of San Pedro. The view is nice, their staff is friendly, prices are good and best of all, there’s no sargasso smell.

Here are pictures from our super fun morning.

Another upside to the second hand shops is they make great for Halloween Costume shopping. I scored my Study 54 disco ball outfit there last October.

living in belize
Studio 54 disco ball dress picture taken by Matt Hoy

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