I have been showing some photos from the Garden Plaza Shopping Center, so I am sharing this photo of a home furnishing store at the shopping center. There is a sad story behind this photo, however.
I took this photo about 18 months ago. I thought it would surprise some people, as such contemporary interior design and a large, modern home furnishing store is not what you would expect to find in a small Costa Rican beach town that has only recently graduated from a fishing village, to a surfing town, and now to a resort catering to international visitors and residents.
I never got around to posting the photo, as I usually show pictures of the beach, wildlife, etc., and not stores. Sadly, this store is now closed. It is a victim of the recession. Most of the customers for a store such as this would be the owners of new homes and new condos being built in the area, as they would obviously need to furnish their entire residence. Tamarindo has only a few thousand residents, so without new housing there would not be the population to support a store such as this.
Because nearly all of the new homes and condos in the area are built (and priced) to sell to Canadians and Americans, the recession in the USA has hurt the market in Costa Rica. Visitors are not as likely to have enough equity in their homes in the USA or value in their investment portfolios to decide to buy a second home or vacation home in Tamarindo or other nearby beach communities. As a result, the construction boom has slowed, not as many new houses and condos are being built, and not as many people need new furniture.
The tourist market has not been as affected as the new home and condo building market, although world wide tourism is also down. There has been some softening in the tourist businesses in Costa Rica. One of the steps the country is taking is trying to market Costa Rica vacations more to Europeans, including increasing direct flights from Europe, which will make Costa Rica less dependent on the US economy.
My own experience is that the rental occupancy of my two condos has remained very high, but I have reduced my prices during 2009 to achieve the high occupancy. About one-third of my guests are Canadians, the balance are Americans, except this past summer I had my first European guests, a delightful couple from Barcelona.
On our travel photos site, Viva la Voyage
, this week we are showing photos of the animals of Monterrey, California.