There are other aspects of shopping in Puerto Rico that strike the newcomer as odd in the beginning.
First of all, there is no culture of returning shopping carts to the store or to a corral. Yes, corrals do exist in some shopping centers, but they are generally ignored. People just leave their carts wherever they please, complicating the parking situation for everyone else. Periodically, a supermarket employee emerges to gather up all the carts, but it is not unusual to arrive at a supermarket and find no carts available since they’re all scattered around the lot.
Second, while “going green” is beginning to make inroads in Puerto Rico, most people still prefer to take their shopping in plastic bags which they then recycle as garbage bags. Since the heat of the tropics makes wrapping and double-wrapping garbage necessary to keep down the stench of rapidly decaying wastes, this makes a lot of sense. Everybody keeps a stash of these plastic bags somewhere in their home, ready for garbage and other purposes. Relatively few people buy large garbage bags unless they’re having a party.
Third, coffee is often locked up since it is apparently a favorite item for shoplifters on the island. There are several brands of excellent coffee produced in PR, like Yaucono (my absolute favorite), Café Crema, Café Rico, and Alto Grande (the most expensive). Very few people prepare coffees from other locations, although you will see limited supplies in supermarkets, particularly of the instant variety. Puerto Ricans in the metro area have recently developed a liking for coffee bars like Starbucks, but it’s more for the ambience and the wi-fi than for the coffee, which is way over-priced in comparison to local coffee. When Border’s Bookstore was in business, their coffee bar served Yaucono coffee. (Yaucono Gold is marketed outside of PR as a luxury coffee, but it’s basically what is served every morning all over the island and available for about $4 for a 14-oz. sack.)