A visit to the San José central market, or to those in the other cities and towns, is a worthwhile and intriguing experience. There you'll find products not offered anywhere else. Prices of natural foods are lower than what you would find in the supermarkets. For a wide variety of medicinal herbs in their natural state, the central market in San José is the place to go. Ask the person selling at the stall what herbs are good for specific ailments. Sometimes folk medicine has its merits.
The cuculmeca or levanta cobija (blanket lifter) is a herb that is believed to have aphrodisiac powers that will do away with erectile dysfunction. A big demand exists because it's considered to be the poor man's Viagra. Other stalls sell fruit and vegetable juices, prepared while you wait. Many are assigned various medicinal powers. Regarding Viagra produced by Pfizer, a March 2002 article in La Nación mentioned that 50,000 Ticos consume it making Costa Rica Central America's leading consumer of that remedy.
Clothing & Footwear
The best stores for buying reasonably priced clothing are La Gloria with several department stores, Yamuni, (two stores) and four
Malls: San Pedro, Multiplaza in the Guachipelín area, Cariari along the main highway to Alajuela and Terramall on the east side of San José past Curridabat. More malls are in the construction stage. Much good clothing, especially women's underwear, comes from Colombia. Of course, on Central Avenue in San Jose you'll find many good clothing and footwear stores, but my wife and I don't buy much there because of the large crowds and difficulty in finding parking space, Cemaco is a good quality house wares store with a fine hardware department with three locations in San José plus one in Alajuela. It offers senior citizens over 62 a card which grants them 5 to 10%discounts on their purchases.
For shoes, you won't have difficulty finding places to buy them. On Central Avenue you can find three or four right next to each other. The ADOC stores sell good quality shoes at low cost. These are made in El Salvador. Good ones also come from Nicaragua, Brazil and Spain. Excellent leather boots, even Texas-style, are made in the country and many are exported. Cardenas on 3rd Avenue between Calle 24 & 26 makes good handmade boots to one's specifications. Immigrant Nicaraguans in little shops make good handmade shoes and do excellent low cost repair work. Penny Lane has established several outlets in San José.