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Trinidad: A Shopping Mecca

The Falls at West Mall just outside Port of Spain, Trinidad. Photographer: Stephen Broadbridge

The Falls at West Mall just outside Port of Spain, Trinidad. Photographer: Stephen Broadbridge

Trinidad is the Regional Shopping Centre

Trinidad continues to be a major shopping centre in the Caribbean, attracting shoppers from all over the region and neighbouring Latin American countries.

Trinidad’s appeal as a shopping mecca lies in the mix of local fare, ranging from jewellery to music; high-end branded goods; and cheap imported items from Venezuela, China, India, Brazil and the United States, among others.

Shopping options are pretty extensive, with bargain shopping in downtown Port of Spain, San Fernando, Chaguanas, Arima, Tunapuna and main streets in other districts. Malls offer merchandise priced for any pocket, with the added convenience of air-conditioning, secure parking, food courts, recreation for children, and in some cases Sunday opening hours (a rarity in the Caribbean).

Consumers can also shop now from the comfort of their homes by calling in to buy items from local as-seen-on-TV shopping programmes. And a growing number of entrepreneurs have set up shop on the internet to sell shoes, clothing, music, lingerie and other items.

Almost anything you need or want can be found in Trinidad, and with shoes, jewelry, clothing and household products particularly, the prices are comparable to what you would pay in the United States. Knowing what you want and where to find it is the first step to enjoying your shopping experience.

A Mecca for Shopping

Shoppers from across the region already flock to Trinidad for the tremendous variety of goods, which are often not available in most of our island neighbours. And in the midst of an economic boom and increasingly well-travelled and savvy consumer market, Trinidad’s retail stores and shopping centres have been upgrading rapidly over the last few years to cater to the island’s (and region’s) evolving tastes. What you’ll find in Trinidad, then, is a retail sector offering the best in local products alongside imported international brands of every description.

Malls

The largest and most extensive shopping malls are concentrated in northern Trinidad, in the northwest and along the East-West Corridor. These sleek and sprawling shopping malls – many of which have been renovated and expanded over the last decade – offer the comfort of air-conditioned shopping and secured parking, and an ever-growing range of retailers. You might sooner feel that you’re in Miami or somewhere in North America when you step into these worlds.

There are five major malls in Trinidad: The Falls at West Mall (Cocorite), Long Circular Mall (St. James), Trincity Mall, Gulf City (La Romaine) and Grand Bazaar (Chaguanas). While you may find branches of popular high street stores at these locations, they also house high-end stores you won’t find anywhere else. Over the last five years, these malls have upgraded their décor and expanded to improve customer satisfaction and accommodate the growing number of people who prefer the convenience of one-stop shopping. In addition to the major malls, Trinidad also has a number of smaller shopping plazas and mini malls that house a range of stores.

Downtown

In contrast, the street vendors, markets, and mini-malls of bustling downtown Port of Spain (Charlotte and Frederick Streets), San Fernando (High Street) and Chaguanas (Main Street), are the destinations for bargain-hunters. In every major district in Trinidad, shopping is centered on a few key streets. In Port of Spain, the capital, the main thoroughfare is Frederick Street with shopping to be found on surrounding streets. Charlotte Street, to the east of Frederick Street, is renowned for its bargain shopping. In San Fernando, the second capital, it’s High Street. In these areas, you can find a myriad of things to buy from fabric to eating utensils.

Online Shopping

Though relatively new, online shopping is gaining traction in Trinidad with local websites offering shoppers the convenience of shopping from the comfort of their home and receiving their goods at their doorstep in a matter of days. So far, shoes, clothing, lingerie and accessories are the main items that can be bought from local sites.

Trade Fairs

Indian businessmen have been doing brisk business in Trinidad over the last decade with trade fairs where they sell clothing, jewelry, household products, foodstuff and furniture at bargain prices.

Good Buys

Must buy souvenirs include: mugs, key chains, T-shirts, figurines, Carnival dolls and handcrafted copper trinkets make perfect gifts for your friends and family back home.

Music

If you’re souvenir shopping, or want to get deeper into the sounds of Trinidad, you’ll definitely want to get hold of some Trini music. Though you may not hear it on the radio, local music is thriving in Trinidad. Apart from calypso, soca and chutney music, you can find local rock, hip-hop, gospel, reggae, choral, and Indian music at most local music stores. There are some excellent steelpan recordings, including annual ones highlighting the stars of the Carnival-time Panorama competition, as well as by some of the leading steelbands and soloists. Many feature pan jazz, which fuses Trinidad rhythms with jazz stylings. If you like calypso, you’ll typically find a range of both new and vintage classic calypsos – many recently remastered. Trinidad also has a vibrant music industry, with artists creating original Caribbean-derived music that defies definition. There are also gospel, pop, rock, western and eastern classical recordings by local artists and groups. You can also buy local music online at TrinidadTunes.com.

DVDs

Locally produced television series and films are packaged for your home-viewing pleasure. DVDs are also becoming increasingly popular, showcasing Trinidad cultural events and, of course, Carnival. You can find original DVDs of these shows at most music stores. See our Carnival and Arts & Culture pages for more details.

Art & Craft

Slippers, belts, handbags and other accessories in leather or other natural material can be bought from sidewalk vendors, at beaches, or shopping plazas in downtown Port of Spain. Paintings, sculptures and other artwork can be found at local art stores mainly located in Port of Spain. Several art galleries exhibit and sell the work of local artists. See our Arts & Culture section for details.

Clothing

Trinidad has a garment industry that’s the envy of the Caribbean. Casual or formal, petite or plus size, branded or generic, local or foreign – you can be sure to find something tailored to your needs.

The island has a lively fashion and jewellery industry, creating elegant formal and casual clothes, including traditional wear from south Asia and the African continent. So one thing you are sure to find in abundance is clothing. There are numerous boutiques selling either cheap, mass produced clothes from China and the USA or high-end boutiques with clothing from Europe and the USA. Ethnic clothing from India and Africa are also available, as are designer duds from local designers renowned throughout the region. In recent years, boutiques catering exclusively to the plus-size market have cropped up around the country. Fabric is a good buy, particularly vivid batiks.

T-shirts can be great and distinctive gifts, whether featuring intricate hand-painted designs, local sayings, bawdy humour or boisterous Trini pride. For a range of T-shirts and casual wear, make sure to check out B&Tees Native Spirit line.

If you’re looking for designer wear, check out Trinidad’s own celebrated fashion designers – including Meiling, The Cloth, Claudia Pegus and Heather Jones and Anya Ayoung-Chee – who create high-fashion wear that looks great anywhere in the world. Radical Designs has a GAP-like selection of quality basics as well as high-fashion sportswear. Batiks by Althea Bastien and Verena and hand-painted sarongs and sun dresses by ETC are also good bets. High-quality swimsuits, tailored suits, sportswear, T-shirts and children’s clothing are all made here.

Jewellery & Craft

From precious stones to natural material, jewellers in Trinidad cater to every pocket and taste with their creations. Trinidad’s jewellers create unique pieces from silver, gold, copper, leather, beads and semi-precious stones. Some will take orders for custom-made accessories. You can purchase these pieces either from sidewalk vendors or at exclusive stores. You can also find beautiful hand-crafted copper and beaded jewellery. Central Trinidad is the pottery-making capital of Trinidad, and a visit to one of the clayworks in the area makes for an interesting day trip – prices are very reasonable. The range of excellent craftwork has expanded in recent years to include miniature ceramic houses, wind chimes, mosaics, metal sculpture, calabash and coconut jewellery and vessels, handmade soaps and aromatherapy products. For locally-made leather sandals, bags and belts, the “Drag Mall” in Port of Spain is worth a visit. You can also find decent hand-made jewellery, footwear and accessories at Maracas Beach!

Food & Spirits

Then of course there is Trinidad rum (check your home country’s duty-free allowance) and a range of other locally produced spirits and liqueurs. Trinidad’s rums, beers and homemade wines are among the most popular (and weighty) items; Angostura 1919 is a favourite – and of course, any Trini will tell you that a beer is a Carib. Travellers from Trinidad are also renowned for carrying loads of Trini food with them – pastelles, roti skins, seasonings, spices, sweets, fruit cakes, biscuits and crackers, pepper sauce, curry powders, even frozen and pre-cooked meat!

Books & Magazines

Books and magazines are always a good buy – local novels, coffee table books, non-fiction, historical accounts, biographies, poetry and more. You’ll find local fiction and poetry at most bookstores; publications about Trinidad history and culture; and some stunning coffee-table books dealing with Trinidad’s natural history, people and architecture. There has been a boom in magazine publishing, particularly lifestyle titles. Several magazines also deal with Trinidad’s lifestyle and culture, and are available as single issues and by subscription. Of course, we recommend Discover’s sister publication, Caribbean Beat, and the range of beautiful coffee table books available from our publisher’s book imprint, Prospect Press! Books by Caribbean authors, coffee-table books and magazines are a great way to learn more about Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands, and they also make excellent gifts.

Featured Shops & Malls

HCL Premier Malls

  • Trincity Mall anchors the HCL Group’s residential, commercial, hospitality and leisure community, the Trincity Millennium Vision. The largest shopping centre in the English-speaking Caribbean with over five million shoppers annually, Trincity Mall is home to a mix of fashion retail, entertainment, two food courts and restaurants. The mall is currently adding six additional screens at the Caribbean Cinemas 8 multiplex, plus nearly 300,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space plus a lifestyle area that will incorporate our tropical environment into the shopping experience. Opening hours: Monday–Thursday 10am–7pm; Friday–Saturday 10am–8pm; Sunday 1pm–6pm
  • Long Circular Mall is centrally located just northwest of Port of Spain, with three levels of brand name merchandise and retailers, plus a food court, gym, and supermarket. Opening hours: Monday–Saturday 10am–7pm
  • Valpark Shopping Plaza is Trinidad’s first shopping plaza (opened in 1970), now newly renovated, and conveniently located between Port of Spain and Piarco Airport. Valpark hosts 115 shops on two levels. Opening hours: Monday–Saturday 8am–8pm, Sunday 8am–4pm          
  • Atlantic Plaza is southern Trinidad’s new business-oriented plaza at Point Lisas, and includes travel agencies; courier services; stationery outlets; insurance brokers; commercial banking facilities; executive office facilities; conference facilities; professional services; fine dining restaurants and an extensive food court.

The Falls at West Mall

Western Main Road, Westmoorings. T: 632-1239.
Inspired by the water, light and greenery of Trinidad’s tropical island environment, as well as by Caribbean architecture and design, the developers of The Falls at West Mall ambitiously set out to create a functional work of art. The result is the elegantly refurbished, meticulously maintained Falls at West Mall, providing each visitor with a luxurious and secure shopping experience in a 21st century facility. The Mall features 137 stores, a modern food court, and state-of-the-art gym. Its wide selection of retailers and service providers can meet all of your shopping needs, with retailers specialising in gifts, clothing, jewellery and accessories, beauty and health, home furnishings, computer and telephone services, music and electronics, and other specialty services. Opening hours: Monday–Saturday 10am–7pm, Sunday 1pm–6pm

B&Tees’ Native Spirit

Long Circular Mall, St. James. T: 622-7969, W: www.nativespirittees.com
Native Spirit is a unique brand of “original art to wear” producing original, locally-made Trini, Caribbean and tropical designs printed and embroidered on t-shirts, polos, ladies’ tops, dresses, bags and headwear for all ages. Native Spirit – a design, screen printing, embroidery and garment manufacturing business – has now expanded to sell its popular clothing and accessories online. Live life in Native Spirit, the t-shirt vibe of the Caribbean.

Bambu Gift Shop

Level 2, West Mall, Westmoorings. T: 632-7567/0688, F: 637-6324, E: bambu@trinidad.net
Bambu offers a variety of unique handcrafted items made in the Caribbean – beautiful sculptures, ceramics, original paintings, hammocks, chimes, copper, steel pans, batik, and much more. It also offers a wide selection of T&T hats, towels, Carib collectables, and jewellery. Located in the Falls at West Mall and Crown Point Beach Hotel in Tobago.

Excellent City Centre

3 Frederick Street, Port of Spain. T: 623-6464
Excellent City Centre in downtown Port of Spain captures the essence of both modern architecture and history. Its main entrance on Independence Square is the modern façade, while the beauty of George Brown’s 100-year-old architecture can be seen in the columns and balustrades on its Frederick Street entrances and inside. Excellent Stores, the largest department store on the island, carries a wide range of souvenir items. Savour the flavour of the island at the ever popular Food Court located on the upper level. With over 60 shops offering a wide range of merchandise and services, Excellent City Centre is a “must visit” destination. Opening hours: Monday–Thursday 9am–6pm, Friday 9am–7pm, Saturday 8:30am–2pm

Ferreira Optical Boutique

The Falls at West Mall, 3rd floor (western entrance): 632-5492/1387
Trinidad gets a new look at eyewear at Optique, a Ferreira Optical boutique. Optique is eyewear redefined, and pushes the boundaries of design in frames and sunglasses. Inspiration for the designs comes from the natural world of insects and flowers, the sleek urban landscape, or the detail and sophistication of haute couture. The materials used to construct this custom eyewear is also innovative: exotic woods, buffalo horn, gold and silver, dotted with diamonds and sapphires, and a selection of accessories in semi-precious stones to match. Not surprisingly, some of the models have won international acclaim: Gold and Wood, Kata, Judith Lieber, Kazuo Kawasaki, Stefan Preutz. Optique – truly an eye-opening experience.

Just CDs

Long Circular Mall, St. James: 622-7516; MovieTowne Mall, Port-of-Spain: 625-3472
Just CDs is your one-stop shop for a wide range of local and international music in a number of genres, including calypso, reggae, classical, opera, R&B, pop, jazz and more. You can also find a host of accessories for your home audio needs, including CD and DVD towers, player cleaners, cases, the latest game systems, and even cell phones.

Rhyner’s Record Shop

De Music Store, Piarco International Airport: T: 669-3064, www.trinidadmusicstore.com, www.trinidadtunes.com
Established over 70 years ago in Port of Spain, the family-run Rhyner’s has long been a leading retailer of local music. In 2001, the company joined forces with other business partners to open De Music Store in the new Piarco International Airport. The store’s rich wooden panelling and shelving, built from local greenheart wood, complements the tremendous range of local audio and video: soca, calypso, steelpan, gospel, classical, compilations, videos of special events and competitions, and much more. Items are also available for purchase online at www.trinidadmusicstore.com, while individual tracks and full albums can be legally downloaded from www.trinidadtunes.com.

Sapodilla Gift Shop

This craft shop carries a unique selection of batiks; ceramics; paintings; T-shirts and jewellery made from local seeds, wood, copper and shells; and other souvenir items. Over 80% of the store’s inventory is completely local. Level 2, Trincity Mall, Trincity, 640-8634

More

  • Aboutique Mall, Frederick Street, Port of Spain
  • Alyce Glen Shopping Centre, Morne Coco Road, Petit Valley
  • Bradford City Mall, Henry Street, Port of Spain
  • Busy Corner Mall, Main Road, Chaguanas
  • Centre City Mall, Main Road, Chaguanas
  • Centre Pointe Mall, Ramasaran Street, Chaguanas
  • City of Grand Bazaar, Valsayn, Churchill Roosevelt Highway
  • Colsort Mall, Frederick Street, Port of Spain
  • Ellerslie Plaza, Ellerslie Court, Maraval
  • Golden Doors Plaza, Frederick Street, Port of Spain
  • Gulf City Mall, La Romain
  • Hadeed Centre Mall, Henry Street, Port of Spain
  • Highland Plaza, Western Main Road, Glenco
  • Mid Centre Mall, Southern Main Road, Chaguanas
  • Plaza Espermaria, Henry Street, Port of Spain
  • People’s Mall, Frederick Street, Port of Spain
  • Royal Palm Plaza, Saddle Road, Maraval
  • Shoppes of Maraval, Saddle Road, Maraval
  • Starlite Shopping Plaza, Four Roads, Diego Martin
  • The Market, Normandie Hotel, St Ann’s
  • Time Plaza, Henry Street, Port of Spain
  • Town Centre Mall, Frederick Street, Port of Spain
  • Uptown Mall, Edward Street, Port of Spain
  • Voyager Mall, Frederick Street, Port of Spain

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A team of of writers discovering Trinidad & Tobago for 25 years and counting!

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