Friday, July 3, 2009

A Kid in a Candy Store

This week, my contractor, John Harris, came to LA to check out windows, security systems and electronics for his new house and others he is building. He spent a good part of last week in Mexico, searching for a quality vinyl window manufacturer. What he found was that most of them have them manufactured in the US and then shipped to Mexico. So not only are you going to pay for shipping and duties in Belize, but you will have paid for the shipping and duties, plus a middleman markup, to get the windows into Mexico. And the windows that were made in Mexico were not the quality the John was looking for.

So, while John was here, we went to a couple of window manufacturers, a couple of window distributors and a home improvement store.

At the home improvement store, John was blown away at the prices of the windows and granite counters. The windows were one third the cost of Belize, with US standards. Same with the glass sliding doors. Two by ten foot granite counters, with bull nosed edging, for between $150-$250 each. John estimates that same granite counter would be a thousand dollars or more, in Belize. Same with the bathroom counters. John has estimated that with shipping and duties, he can still bring the windows and granite into Belize cheaper than he can buy it there, with much better quality.

Next, we went to a electronics wholesaler, where John was able to pick up all his security equipment in one stop, also at a huge discount. Unlike Belize, you can do one stop shopping here in the States. John figured that the money he has saved, on just the items he needed to buy, has paid for his whole trip.

The next stop was the window manufacturing plant. WinDor ( custom makes every window, so there are no extra charges for odd sizes. The quality was far superior to anything we have seen so far and the prices were the same as the windows he was getting from Spanish Lookout. And, they can make the 8 ft French doors that I am looking to install in the living room. I was very impressed with their displays and they even gave us a tour of the manufacturing facilities behind the showroom. A very clean, modern, well run manufacturing plant. John is planning to order all the windows for his house to see how much the shipping and duties will add to the final price of the windows, and if it is a reasonable alternative to offer his clients. He seems to think that with the quality and price, even with the duties, it would be worth it to purchase them here, in LA.

From there it was off for a liquid lunch at a local sports bar. John got to enjoy a cold Guinness, on tap. I enjoyed a real nice lager from the tap. Something you can't get in Belize. We discussed what we had seen and where we going to go next. This is where a kid in a candy store begins.

Our next stop was Pacific Sales, a wholesale seller of kitchen, bath, TV's and appliances.

John and Mischelle at Pacific Sales

John was drooling soon after entering the store. Of course, the first things you see as you enter the store is the TV's. Plasma's, LCD's, large and small. Prices were also pretty unbelieveable. The prices for TV's has dropped so much, it's almost worth it to pick up a spare TV. After prying John out of the TV area, we entered the kitchen appliance area. Again, so much to choose from. Stovetops were the main items we looked at, with over 50 different types on the showroom floor. The prices varied widely but there were some excellent bargains, especially with the holiday so close. Some of the items were up to 70% off. Mischelle and I are thinking of going back this weekend to purchase some things for our home, even if we do end up paying shipping and duties, because the prices are so good.

After spending an hour at Pacific Sales, it was back to seal the deal on John's electronic equipment, then off to dinner. We went to a nice steak place, figuring John doesn't get to have a good steak very often. We had a wonderful dinner, then dropped John off at the Bicycle Club casino so he and his friend could play cards.

It had been a long day, but we got a lot accomplished. We found a window and door supplier, picked out our kitchen appliances and had a good conversation with our contractor about the status of our home.


Wilma said...

Hello Perry,

Your post today is even more interesting than usual. It has certainly given me pause for thought about what we plan to bring down with us when move to Belize. Of course, you should realize that our cabana is in Toledo, remote even by Belize standards. We will have only one good opportunity to bring in goods that can't come down by suitcase! So we need need to make that opportunity count.

I've enjoyed reading your blog and learning from how you have dealt with various issues. Hope we can meet face to face at some point, perhaps when we are all in Belize fulltime.


Perry and Mischelle said...

Hi Wilma,
I really had only a general idea about the cost of items in Belize, but I knew it was a premium, if you could find it. Having someone who has lived in Belize for a while and knows what is a good deal, even with duties and taxes, come up to the States and do some actual shopping, was a plus. The window quality is just OK in Belize, so we had to look elsewhere. I will be posting more soon about how well the windows and appliances make it through customs. Glad our blog can help and look forward to sharing a Belikin or two, with you.

What is your time frame for Belize?


Anonymous said...


I would worry more about the burglar bars than the windows. Yesterday the shores had its second seafront house break-in in as many weeks.

Perry and Mischelle said...

I need windows in before I can get the burgler bars and I can have the burgler bars made in Belize. Were the homes in the shores empty or were they full time residents?

Anonymous said...

They were both empty - Carl Rainey's and the "Russian's" - sorry don't know his name. The ones who broke in to the "Russian's' have been caught already.

Perry and Mischelle said...

Didn't the Russian house have burgler bars?

Anonymous said...


Just found out that the burglars broke into Wayne and Lorraine William's shed first, by ripping off the zinc roofing, and used the tools they found there to break-into their house first and then later they broke the padlock off burglar bar door on the sea side verandah of the "Russian's" house. Apparently the William's were hit harder than the "Russian's".

So thats 3 recent break -ins not 2.

sandy a said...

I will be interested to see about the duties/customs charges. We are looking for a builder, and taking bids, on building our house in Maya Beach. I was wondering if it would be cheaper to buy some building items here and import them ourselves, so your post was very timely. Is John trucking the stuff back himself, or did he fly and is having the stuff shipped in?

Perry and Mischelle said...

Hi Sandy,
John flew in and then had the items he bought shipped back to Belize. He has a regular shipper who works out of LA and makes a couple of trips a month to Belize. I guess the shipper is his own customs broker, so he can get the items through customs without too much problems. I, too, am curious to see how much shipping and duties will add to the bill. But the prices available here in the States just make it a hard decision whether to import or buy local. The quality is also a big issue and I am familiar with all of the appliances available here. The same can't be said for Belize. I will post the information as soon as John forwards the info.

sandy a said...

thanks Perry
I just found a shipper, MCW shipping, out of Mobile, Alabama that has a run to Big Creek (across the lagoon from us) twice a month. I have a large resin window I am getting shipped down there, but have not gotten a price on shipping it yet. They may be quite reasonable because they export wood out of Belize to the US, and often have a partially empty ship going down there.

tacogirl said...

Your post made me smile. I had a similar experience on a 4 day trip to San Fran. I was running an errand for tacoboy that led me to Best Buy and my jaw dropped at all the cool tech gear and the price difference between what I saw there and shopping for stuff like that in San Pedro.

Perry and Mischelle said...

There's nothing like going to the discount stores, seeing what's available, and comparing it to what you can get in Belize. The simple electric tools, fixtures and the granite has been the biggest surprise. The prices are as much as 4-5 times higher in Belize. I can see some items would be well worth the duties and taxes to bring in.

Hugo said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading about electronics wholesaler. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Carla said...

Hey, we have been in Belize for 7 years, Cayo District. Know a great guy for burglar bars; Christian youth pastor has a welding business. Korie Williams, his e-mail is: You can check out our ministry at Korie helps us in the ministry too. Carla