By Tommy Clarkson from the October 2016 Edition
There exists a fascinating and exciting manufacturing district on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Jalisco. It’s named Tonalá. I use the word fascinating because you’ve likely never seen anything like it elsewhere. And I say exciting because the pricing is such a bargain you think you’ve died and gone to heaven. House-wares, hand-blown glass, clothing, furniture, weavings, carpets, jewelry, floor tiles, ceramic sinks, trinkets and souvenirs abound throughout the streets that cover endless square kilometers. Let the photos speak for themselves!
Experiencing a shopping excursion there is the best way to understand the scope of products and endless array of artisanal pieces. If you are a serious shopper wanting to furnish a vacation condo or upgrade your kitchen ware, be sure to take a few days. This way you give yourself the time needed to really scan the choices at a leisurely pace and also enjoy some lovely little side restaurants and ‘taquerías’. Perhaps you want to take some unique and special gifts back to friends and family. The only problem you will have is making your final choices.
This district is producing products for greater Mexico and well beyond its borders. I have seen vans and trucks there with license plates from Quebec, Canada. They were loading up inventories of products for resale in their Canadian stores. Some of the local hotels actually cater to larger inventory buyers by providing storage areas on their mezzanine levels that are secured until the shopping is done and vehicles are loaded.
Although we live in Manzanillo, our condo association holds its annual meeting in Guadalajara; so a number of years ago, we tied in a Tonalá excursion at the same time. We rented a car and drove the 4 hour trip and gazed upon the stunning mountains and valley vistas along the way. We navigated quite well with our GPS applications though that could be the subject of another adventure story in future.
The hotel we booked was right near the Tonalá district and all we had to do was walk out the front door and start shopping.
On that particular day, we ambled straight into ‘street market day’ held Thursdays and Sundays each week. So, not only were there all the shops to explore, but also several blocks of street vendors under tents and awnings. It was very festive indeed.
But, we had an objective: wall-mounted entry shelves for the front and patio door areas. We needed a place to throw our keys and sunglasses or put down a plate or a glass when going in and out to the terrace. We also needed to be able to fit them into the car. (We would later learn they ship almost any-where.) It was quite difficult to stay on task as we meandered in and out of the shops and circled the open market tables of colorful and assorted items.
Following a nice lunch on the street, we crossed over to the other side and found ourselves in a shop with exactly what would work for us. It was a wall-mounted wrought iron half circle design with a glass top insert. I loved it. We spoke with the shop clerk and discussed pricing. It was a bargain by any standard. But, we said we needed two of them. Without hesitation we were told they could fabricate another one for us within 2-3 hours! This was quite shocking for us as we are part of the‘hurry up and wait’ league who are used to the ‘big box’ stores and waiting for shipping from distant warehouses.
So we put down our deposit and off we went to explore more of the area. Indeed, when we returned, our shelves were ready to go. I still smile at the surprise of the experience. I should add here, that Tonalá has a lovely ‘town’ square complete with a beautiful cathedral, museum and various shops and restaurants as well. It is also a lovely diversion from the serious shop-ping and miles of walking.
Since then, we have returned many times with other friends and family and found more lovely pieces for our home in Man-zanillo. Some of our most experienced travelling friends could not believe the expansiveness of the area. If you’re looking for some fun and exercise, put on some good walking shoes and head for Tonalá. For those who don’t care to drive, I have heard that there are shopping excursions and the first class bus systems in Mexico are the greatest for comfort and site seeing.
There is a terminal very near Tonalá from which you can take a taxi. Have fun!
Since then, we have returned many times with other friends and family and found more lovely pieces for our home in Manzanillo. Some of our most experienced travelling friends could not believe the expansiveness of the area. If you’re looking for some fun and exercise, put on some good walking shoes and head for Tonalá. For those who don’t care to drive, I have heard that there are shopping excursions and the first class bus systems in Mexico are the greatest for comfort and site seeing.
There is a terminal very near Tonalá from which you can take a taxi. Have fun and enjoy the rest of the pictures from our walking tour!
Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.
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