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The Times Shopper: Acapulco

Shop Hop With a Jeep for Colorful Products at Bargain Prices

August 30, 1987|JENNIFER MERIN | Merin is a New York City free-lance writer .

The Costera Miguel Aleman, Acapulco's main avenue, is lined with fine hotels and hugs the pretty shore of Mexico's most famous bay.

On one side is the beach, with Acapulco's golden sands and beautiful blue waters. On the other side are scenic mountains with the resort's palatial villas and modern condominiums.

By day the Costera basks in Acapulco's perpetual sunshine; at night it glitters with lights and the excitement of discos, restaurants and clubs that entertain tourists until dawn.

Several years ago the Costera got a much needed face lift. Renovation included modern shops selling stylish, famous-label resort wear and gift items. These boutiques nicely complement the Costera's colorful outdoor stalls that still sell serapes ($8 and up), rugs ($10 and up) and sombreros ($5).

The Costera is entertaining for shoppers. You can stroll along, encountering street vendors at any time of day. They're laden with everything from colorful hammocks ($10 to $15) to reproductions of archeological artifacts, from traditional hand-embroidered dresses (about $35) to mod bathing suits (about $15 and up) and wraps.

Price depends largely upon your negotiating skills. Street vendors also offer attractive jewelry, but much of it is alpaca rather than silver, and even a superb bargainer can't make it into the real thing.

Try Shop-Hopping

The Costera is several miles long. You might find it convenient and relaxing to shop hop. Rent an open Jeep and breeze along the Costera, stopping at shops that appeal. Caution: Don't leave purchases in the Jeep while you're in the stores or they'll probably be gone when you get back.

Finding Costera street numbers isn't easy. Buildings aren't clearly marked; many shopkeepers don't even know their exact addresses. In general, lower numbers are near old Acapulco. A good landmark at that end of the Costera is Hotel Paraiso Marriott (No. 163). Toward the other end is Hotel Fiesta Tortuga (No. 3675).

Prices in Acapulco's boutiques are reasonable. Tags tend to be more during the high season from December through February. Even so, with constant peso devaluation you'll get great purchasing power and great bargains for dollars. Many shops with designer names sell "Hecho en Mexico" copies, some with designer permission. If you're a stickler for authenticity, ask before you buy.

Here's a list of good shops:

Fiorucci (No. 74) has exact copies (bearing Fiorucci labels) of amusing, trendy Italian clothes and accessories. $60 will buy you a studded denim short skirt and jacket. The latest in torn jeans sell for about $18 and stone washed denim shirts are about $12. Bathing suits are $8 to $10, shorts $10, ties $4, knit dresses $15 and kid's T-shirts $4. They also have unusual plastic sandals and shoes for about $10.

Daniel Hechter (No. 115) has more conservative casual clothes, with attractive, stylish sweaters, cotton trousers ($18), shirts ($10) and jackets ($25) in brightly appealing solid colors and plaids. A handsome, multipocketed flack jacket costs $45 (it's the most expensive item in the shop).

Across the Costera, Polo Ralph Lauren's two stories are filled with sophisticated casual clothes, plus some business suits and shirts.

Traditional V-neck sweaters with the Polo logo cost about $35, cotton knit shirts in bright or pastel colors $15, cotton and corduroy trousers $20, ties $8 to $10, fabric belts with leather trim $15, olive drab jackets $35.

Women's fashions, on the second floor, include knit shirts ($12), sweaters ($30), floor-length casual dresses in white or denim ($18 and up), skirts ($18) and shorts ($11 and up).

Ocean Pacific (No. 120) has a big picture window displaying colorful beach wear ($10), shorts ($8), sweat clothes ($8 and up) and other casuals with the Op logo. An attractive shirt with flounces costs $13 and tank tops are $6.

Near by, Guess (No. 154) clothes have the company trademark (a question mark within a triangle) but are labeled "Hecho en Mexico." However, the prices may tempt you to overlook such details. Denim jackets with leather patches and trim cost $45, matching jeans are $17, attractive denim multipocketed vests are $20 and matching mini-skirts $13. Attractive oversize cotton shirts are $15 and skimpy T-shirts $6.

'Beverly Hills' Jeans

Two additional clothes shops are numberless: Jag has knit jump suits in white and bright colors for $15, in addition to cute tiered skirts for $14 and "Beverly Hills" jeans for $10, with matching jackets for $10. Pasarela sells unusual evening wear, including gowns heavily beaded with black jet ($212) or glittering silver ($292) and slinky little silk sheaths with beaded trim ($145).

Take a break from clothes to stop in at Sergio Bustamante's charming gallery (No. 711). This well-known artist makes whimsical and slightly surrealistic animal and plant sculptures of brass or ceramic.

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