Shopping on Antigua
I'll try to list a few things of interest, but as always, proceed
with caution - you might have different requirements and interests, especially
if you're on Antigua for a short visit only. My approach to shopping is
usually that of
homo oeconomicus (getting the most adequate for the least
price and with the least effort). Or are you looking for the
interesting experience when you get a sack of potatoes? (Speaking
of which, potatoes are rather hard to come by on Antigua.)
- The products I'm listing may be a bit euro-centric but then that's
my fate; if you are from Antigua and wish to add some things, don't
hesitate to write me!
|Above: The Wood Centre complex,|
with the Epicurean supermarket.
I bought most of my groceries at the Epicurean supermarket, in the Wood Centre
Complex (it's on the map on the restaurant page). The
Epicurean is, for a supermarket at least, rather expensive, but they carry many
products I couldn't find elsewhere, for example some herbs, or reasonably
fresh French cheese (from a counter, not shrink-wrapped), many ingredients for
Italian cooking, a large selection of dairy products, etc. The Epicurean is
open daily from 8am to 10pm.
It would be rather futile to list stuff that I was surprised not to get
on Antigua because depending on where you're from, this list would differ vastly.
As a general rule, fruit and vegetables that have been imported or those which
need a lot of water to grow will not be of a very high quality, and you shouldn't
buy fruit and vegs at the supermarket - there's a "conventional" market
in St. John's every Saturday (and some stalls seem to be there all week),
selling mostly local produce at affordable prices and, if you have an eye for
it, a good quality.
Sparkling mineral water is quite a rarity. The Epicurean has three brands - one
imported from Scotland, one from France, and one from Italy - all in glass bottles!
If you buy anything that can potentially support a large number of nasty insects -
muesli being a prime example - look closely, and try to buy the stuff in clear
wrapping so that you can inspect the contents.
Bread bought from the supermarket will only satisfy the expectations of my
American readers ;-) all others should think about getting their bread supplies
from Philton's Bakery (they also do eat-in sandwiches), just
a bit further South from the Wood Centre (follow signs to Gambles Medical Centre).
There is also a good French Bakery in St. John's, at Redcliffe
There is another rather big supermarket in St. John's, near the harbour, between
Newgate and North Street (someone with local knowledge please tell me if I've got the
street names right), and an even larger one past the
roundabout on the western end of Dickenson Bay Street.
If you require larger quantities of certain groceries, check out Island
Provisions - follow Old Parham Road from St. John's to the airport,
but at the crossroads where you have to turn left for the airport, turn right
instead. I believe you have to pre-order many things but they carry a lot of items
and are really cheap - I bought a 50kg sack of rye flour there because I couldn't
get the stuff anywhere else on the island.
St. John's also has a fish market but I don't know about their
opening times. There's a huge number of little "supermarkets" which are often worth
a look; many sell some items cheaper than the Epicurean, but none can match its
The Epicurean carries a limited selection of housewares. Other than that,
try the houseware shop in the basement of the City View Hotel on Dickenson Bay Street, or the
department store that has recently opened next door to that, and then you can also try
Benji's Department Store which must be somewhere in the Temple/Nevis and
St Mary's/Redcliffe Street rectangle (sorry but my memory deserted me here).
There are essentially two types of clothing stores in St. John's - guess what? One
caters to tourists and sells trendy stuff with cool souvenir prints for US dollars,
the other has locals as customers and sells the things that you can really use for
something other than showing folks at home that you were on Antigua. It's not hard
to figure it out, and a stroll in St. John's will lead you past virtually every
such store. I found clothing to be rather cheap, in fact, the only kind of goods that
were consistently cheaper than at home. Don't expect to get a lot of brand name stuff
(unless in the tourist shops) but who needs them anyway?
I am not an expert but I guess that St. John's must be one of the places
with the highest density of footwear shops per capita in the world.
Books and Magazines
Again, the Epicurean has some magazines at the checkout. There's a
book shop in the Wood Centre right next to it, in fact that is the only book shop
of note, and they do have a good selection of books; mostly from Britain. (See their
there's a sort of Christian Bookshop somewhere in St. John's but I didn't care
a lot, and you will find some travel guides and (again Christian) education literature
in the Map Shop on St. Mary's Street. As the name implies,
this is also the place to get your maps.
Don't bother ordering from Amazon while you're on the island. Shipping and duties are
exorbitant, it takes ages to arrive, and you'll have to pick it up in person at the
post office (and get some paperwork done at the customs office before). If there's
any chance of having the bookshop get the stuff for you, you're well advised to
The main local newspaper is the Antigua
Antigua is a very expensive place to buy anything which has been invented in the
past 20 years - expensive, at least, by European, and even more so by U.S. American
A good source for anything technical up to microcomputer complexity is
Radio Shack at the Wood Centre. You'll find loudspeakers, musical
instruments, batteries, transformers, tools, wires, and even some electronic
components here, as well as some computer accessoires. If you're serious about
computer stuff, check out ACT in St. John's (Church Street cnr.
Market Street); they also have a buggy website.
There are a few other computer stores, two of them on High Street (one opposite the
cinema, the other still further East). You will also find a few mixed stores on the
southern end of Thames Street, and consumer electronics (TVs, hifis) are available
at Courts, a large store just south of the market (between All
Saints and Valley Road).
As you may have guessed by now, the Epicurean does have a limited
selection of office supply items. But you'll get everything you need just around
the corner, in the office supply store at the Wood Centre. The aforementioned
Benji's Department Store also has a wide range of items. There
is a shop selling office supplies and graphics stuff on the corner of St. Mary's
and Cross Street, and another one on Popeshead Street (near the corner with Bishopsgate
Toiletries and Medication
Apart from the Epicurean :-), there's a pharamacy at the Wood Centre, and also
Benji's Drug Store/Pharmacy on Redcliffe Street (or was it
St. Mary's? Anyone who knows, please help!). Another
pharmacy is on the corner of High Street and Temple Street. They are quite
cooperative - a friend of mine required a prescription medicine and asked for it
in one of them, who was out of stock and then called round and found another
pharmacy who had what we needed.
A Word at the End
The information on this page is written down based on my experience in 1999/2000. I know
that these things change, so if you know or find that anything I'm saying is wrong,
please contact me so that I may correct it!
Frederik Ramm, 2001-05-17