Many visitors to Guadalajara come specifically for the shopping in Tlaquepaque and Tonalá . If you have little free time, try the government-run Instituto de la Artesanía Jalisciense, González Gallo 20 at Calzada Independencia (tel. 33/3030-9090), in Parque Agua Azul, just south of downtown. This place is perfect for one-stop shopping, with two floors of pottery, silver jewelry, dance masks, glassware, leather goods, and regional clothing from around the state and the country. As you enter, on the right are museum displays showing crafts and regional costumes from the state of Jalisco. The craft store is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm.
Guadalajara is known for its shoe industry; if you're in the market for a pair, try the Galería del Calzado, a shopping center made up exclusively of shoe stores. It's on the west side, about 6 blocks from Minerva Circle, at avenidas México and Yaquis. There is also a section of the street Esteban Alatorre, near Parque Morelos, which has practically nothing but shop after shop of women's dress shoes. It makes for very comfortable shopping.
Women's jewelry is another good that Guadalajara is known for. There are four large buildings filled with jewelry shops on the Plaza Tapatía, by the San Juan de Dios market, also known as Mercado Libertad.
Mariachis and charros come to Guadalajara from all over Mexico to buy highly worked belts and boots, wide-brimmed sombreros, and embroidered shirts. Several tailor shops and stores specialize in these outfits. One is El Charro, which has a store in the Plaza del Sol shopping center, across the street from the Hotel Presidente InterContinental, and one downtown on Juárez.
To view a good slice of what constitutes the material world for most Mexicans, try the mammoth Mercado Libertad downtown. Besides food and produce, you'll see crafts, household goods, clothing, magic potions, and more. Although it opens at 7am, the market isn't in full swing until around 10am. Come prepared to haggle.
Gonvil, a popular bookstore chain, has a branch across from Plaza de los Hombres Ilustres on Avenida Hidalgo, and another a few blocks south at Av. 16 de Septiembre 118 (Alcalde becomes 16 de Septiembre south of the cathedral). It carries few English selections. Sanborn's, at the corner of Juárez and 16 de Septiembre, does a good job of keeping English-language periodicals in stock, but most are specialty magazines. For the widest selection of English-language books, try Sandi Bookstore, Av. Tepeyac 718 (tel. 33/3121-0863), in the Chapalita neighborhood on the west side.
Packing It In -- If you need your purchases packed safely so that you can check them as extra baggage, or if you want them shipped, talk to Margaret del Río. She is an American who runs a large packing and shipping company at Juárez 347, Tlaquepaque (tel. 33/3657-5652). Paying the excess baggage fee usually is cheaper than shipping, but it's less convenient.
Shopping in Tlaquepaque & Tonalá
Almost everyone who comes to Guadalajara for the shopping has Tlaquepaque (Tlah-keh-pah-keh) and Tonalá in mind. These two suburbs are traditional handicraft centers that produce and sell a wide variety of artesanía (crafts).
Tlaquepaque -- Located about 20 minutes from downtown, Tlaquepaque has the best shopping for handicrafts and decorative arts in all of Mexico. Over the years, it has become a fashionable place, attracting talented designers in a variety of fields. Even though it's a suburb of a large city, it has a cozy, small-town feel and is a pleasure to stroll through popping into one shop after another. No one hassles you; no one does the hard sell. It's a relaxing, easy-going experience. There are some excellent places to eat, or you can grab some simple fare at El Parián, a building in the middle of town that houses a number of small eateries.
A taxi from downtown Guadalajara costs 100 pesos, or you can take one of the TUR 706 buses that make a fairly quick run from downtown to Tlaquepaque and Tonalá.
The Tlaquepaque Tourism Office (tel. 33/3562-7050, ext. 2320; email@example.com) has an information booth in the town's main square by El Parián. It's staffed from 10am to 8pm daily.
If you are interested in pottery and ceramics, make sure to see the Pantaleón Panduro Museum, listed above. Another is the Regional Ceramics Museum, Independencia 237 (tel. 33/3635-5404), which displays several aspects of traditional Jalisco pottery as produced in Tlaquepaque and Tonalá. The examples date back several generations and are grouped according to the technique used to produce them. Note the crosshatch design known as petatillo on some of the pieces; it's one of the region's oldest traditional motifs and is, like so many other motifs, a real pain to produce. Look for the wonderful old kitchen and dining room, complete with pots, utensils, and dishes. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm, Sunday from 10am to 3pm; admission is free.
The following list of Tlaquepaque shops will give you an idea of what to expect. This is just a small fraction of what you'll find; the best approach might be to just wander among the shops. The main shopping is along Independencia, a pedestrian-only street that starts at El Parián. It was recently resurfaced in stone and looks pretty sharp. You can go door-to-door visiting the shops until the street ends, and then work your way back on Calle Juárez, the next street over, south of Independencia.
Tonalá: a Tradition of Pottery Making -- Tonalá is a pleasant town 10 minutes from Tlaquepaque. It is without question the largest concentration of artisans in Mexico and was a center of pottery making since pre-Hispanic times. Half of the more than 400 workshops here produce a wide variety of high- and low-temperature pottery. Other local artists work with forged iron, cantera stone, brass and copper, marble, miniatures, papier-mâché, textiles, blown glass, and gesso. This is a good place to look for custom work in any of these materials; you can locate a large pool of craftspeople by asking around a little.
Market days are Thursday and Sunday, when Tonalá reflects Mexico in all its chaotic glory. Expect large crowds and blocks and blocks of stalls displaying locally made pottery and glassware, cheap manufactured goods, food, and all kinds of bric-a-brac. You'll see herb men selling a rainbow selection of dried plants from wheelbarrows, magicians entertaining crowds, and craftspeople spreading their wares on the plaza's sidewalks. All kinds of crafts are for sale, most of which can be found in various parts of Mexico, but every now and then you'll come across something unique, produced by a local artisan. Visiting Tonalá on nonmarket days is easier. You can walk around more easily and find stores and workshops. Tonalá is the place for buying sets of margarita glasses, the widely seen blue-rimmed hand-blown glassware, finely painted petatillo ware, and the pottery typically associated with Mexico.
The Tonalá Tourism Office (tel. 33/1200-3912) operates an information kiosk on the town square. It's open Monday to Friday from 9am to 2:30pm.
Tonalá is also the home of the Museo Nacional de Cerámica, Constitución 104, between Hidalgo and Morelos (tel. 33/3284-6000, ext. 1523). The museum occupies most of the Casa del Artesano, which promotes local artisans. There is a store to the right just as you enter. You should take time to look through the store and its displays. If there's anything that interests you, ask the staff, who can tell you (in Spanish) about the different methods used to make pottery and other work and show you the difference between original methods and commercial shortcuts. If you like anything in particular they can direct you to the workshop where it was made and tell you of others that make something similar. The museum and store are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 8pm. Admission is free; the fee for using a video or still camera is 85 pesos per camera.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.