You can definitely buy furniture in Puerto Vallarta. So many things are changing globally, and the whole online retail world is making it so much easier for people to shop. The challenge to buying furniture is knowing what to buy, and what not to buy.
Most expats in Puerto Vallarta come from a different climate. Even here in Mexico, we have microclimates. It is incredibly humid here in the Bay of Banderas in the summertime, and you do not want to be bringing something from home and taking it all the way here, and then find out that in the first week, it falls apart because the glue will not last in this temperature. You won’t know unless you get here and somebody else can tell you.
The biggest thing about buying furniture is really understanding what’s going to work and what isn’t going to work. Another thing that’s happening here in Puerto Vallarta that people aren’t realizing is that there are a lot of products that are brought in to big-box stores from offshore- China and Taiwan, and people think, for instance, “Oh, that’s synthetic rattan, that’ll last forever.” I thought that, too. What I didn’t know until I started this business and started learning more about these materials is that there are different grades of synthetic rattan. It can be cheap plastic, or it can be really well-made expensive plastic.
When I first moved here, I purchased the cheap stuff not knowing any different, and within one season, all of that weave in that synthetic rattan snapped. I had to replace it, and I had to pay twice of what I should have paid. It’s very important with furniture to talk to somebody who knows what’s going to last.
For instance, I would recommend powder-coated aluminum because it doesn’t rust and it’s nice and light. I would also recommend Textilene (the fabric that they use on yachts) to make sure that it lasts in the salt air and in the sun. You just spray and hose Textilene off to clean it. Another material that I would recommend is Poly-Wood, which is the new plastic wood that will outlast all of us- so you’re going to pay a little bit more upfront, but you’re never going to have to replace it, and it’s always going to look great.
Finding out from people who have been here and from people who are experts on furniture what lasts and what doesn’t, what type of wood to buy and not to buy, can save you hassle, frustration, and a lot of money.
A lot of people tell me that furniture in Mexico is horribly uncomfortable, but there is a difference. Having a furniture business for over 6 years here in Puerto Vallarta, I can speak more knowledgeably about the different comfort levels and the different styles of furniture that different groups of people like. For instance, there is a definite style that the Canadians like, which is different than what Americans like, and is different than what the locals here like. These styles differ in colors, fabrics, shapes, and in comfort level.
I have found it was difficult to find a really comfortable sofa here in Puerto Vallarta, and when you think about it, many of the traditional homes in Mexico have beds with a concrete base and a cushion on top. That means their degree of comfort is different than what we look for in comfort.
I love the fact that North America has different brands that are manufactured right here in Mexico because of the low cost of materials here. For instance, one of my suppliers is Palliser. Palliser Furniture is number one in upholstered leather in all of North America, and because Canadians in particular are really familiar with the Palliser brand name, they love to know that they can order a very comfortable sofa that’s exactly what they could get at home in Canada through us. I order the sofa from the plant in Saltillo, Mexico, ship it to them, and they can have that kind of comfort that they are used to at home while still supporting Mexico and its workers, including their families.
It is a win-win to me when we can find a brand that is well-known, and that provides really well-made, well-constructed, comfortable, and well-priced furniture that is made here in Mexico, because to me it just wraps it all up in a ball.
In most cases, furniture costs a little less here in the Bay of Banderas than what they would cost in Canada, and the quality is exactly the same as what one would get in Canada.
The key for people in the US and Canada is to find which brands are manufactured in Mexico, but there also has to be somebody you can speak to. Usually, you can’t purchase direct from the manufacturer. You have to be able to go through somebody because manufacturers don’t sell direct.
(Murphy bed wall unit, available at Solutions Mexico, Puerto Vallarta , Mexico, pictured.)