Makro recently opened a new warehouse store in Medellín near El Poblado, the company’s second store in the city. The new store is located a few minutes walk from the Poblado metro station.
The new store sells primarily groceries with many items selling for substantially cheaper prices than can be found in Exito or Jumbo.
In fact many restaurants, hotels and other businesses in the city buy from Makro due to the low prices in large, wholesale size packages. The store also sells to individuals and families.
I visited the new warehouse store a few days after it opened and I was impressed at many of the low prices I saw.
What is Makro?
Makro is part of the Dutch SHV Group, which is a holding company that also owns a gas company, financial company, recycling firm, oil producing company as well as the Makro chain of warehouse stores.
Makro started its activities in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 1968. The warehouse store concept of the company was successfully introduced for the first time in Latin America in Brazil in 1972.
In 1989 the company started operations in Asia with the opening of its first store in Bangkok, Thailand. In 1997 the group sold its stake in Makro Europe but still owns Makro operations in Latin America and Asia.
In Latin America, Makro has over 150 stores including 78 stores in Brazil, 37 stores in Venezuela, 20 stores in Argentina, 17 stores in Colombia and seven stores in Peru.
In Colombia, Makro has stores in 12 Colombian cities with a total of 17 stores, which are sized at between 4,000 and 9,900 square meters each. The newest store in Medellín is expected to support 80 direct and 70 indirect jobs.
What Does Makro Sell?
Warehouse stores are able to keep prices low due to the no-frills format of the stores. When I was walking around the new warehouse store I overheard several Colombians saying, “tan barato” (so cheap).
Makro sells grocery items in well over half of the large warehouse store. Many of the grocery items are in large, wholesale size packages. The store also sells some electronics and appliances as well as items for the home and offices.
The store has a lot of familiar Colombian/South American brands as well as a number of imported items. There are fewer imported items to be found at Makro than are found at PriceSmart.
What About Pricing ?
Pricing in general in Makro is lower than the pricing you will find in Exito or Jumbo for the same items but you may need to buy larger size packages in Makro.
To compare pricing I surveyed the pricing of 14 different items in both the new Makro store and the Exito store in the Mayorca mall in Sabaneta and here are the results:
Out of the 14 items I surveyed, only one was not cheaper than in Exito – Aguardiente was the same price in both stores. The average savings of the 14 items I surveyed was 23 percent.
By comparing pricing by quantity between the stores you can find many items in the new Makro that are at least 30 percent cheaper than in Exito. So if you do a lot of cooking you can save substantially by shopping at Makro.
What Does the Membership Cost?
Makro doesn’t charge a fee for its membership, unlike PriceSmart, which charges 65,000 pesos per year.
It took me only a few minutes and it was painless to sign up for a membership and get a Pasaporte Makro card, they just want to see your ID and also fill out a short form with your ID number, address and phone numbers.
Where is the New Makro Located?
The new Makro is located about a four-minute walk west from the Poblado metro station, it’s across the river in an industrial area located in Guayabal. This is a safe area to walk during the day, as there are many pedestrians in the area going to/from the metro station.
The address of the new Makro store is Calle 10 # 50-171, which you can give to any taxi driver to get to the store. It is also easy to catch a taxi on the street outside the store.
The company reportedly chose the location of the new store to be close to El Pobaldo as well as being close to a metro station.
The Bottom Line
The new Makro warehouse store near El Poblado was pretty busy when I went on the first weekend after it opened with many people there checking out the new store.
The store had several checkout lines open so it was quick to checkout. I noticed several customers checking out with pretty full baskets.
The new Makro is better located than the PriceSmart that opened in December 2014. The new store is more conveniently located as it is close to the Poblado metro station making it easy to get to.
I expect the new store will be popular based on what I saw in my initial visit with some good prices to be found and a wide selection of products.
I used to shop at the first Makro in Medellín located near the Suramericana metro station when I lived in Estadio over five years ago. But when I moved to Belén and now Sabaneta it was no longer convenient to shop at the first Makro – the new store is more conveniently located.
Thanks for the info. I will probably stop by on my next trip to the city.
The store is pretty close to the PriceSmart, so it looks to me that if you are travelling by taxi or private car there is not much of a difference. Other than the Makro having fewer imported choices, do you have any comments about it compared to PriceSmart? From the sample pricing you showed, it looks like they sell some stuff in very large packages (48 kg of potatos, 50 kg of salt).
Do they have a bakery section and fresh produce?
My biggest impression was the new Makro has a bigger selection of items than PriceSmart has.
Makro sells stuff in large packages (likely for restaurant customers) but they also have some smaller packages available. Makro has a fresh produce section and they also sell breads/etc but not a big bakery section like in PriceSmart. Makro also has a big meat/chicken/fish section with some good prices.
The new Makro store is more convenient than the PriceSmart if you are using the metro. Also it’s closer to El Poblado than PriceSmart, so a cheaper taxi. It’s also easier to catch a taxi when leaving Makro with many taxis passing on the road in front of the store – sometimes I have had problems catching a taxi when leaving PriceSmart.
Thanks for this article and thanks for including some sample prices. What is the normal cost of boneless/skinless chicken breasts and good cuts of steak for grilling/pan-searing at Makro and PriceSmart in Medellin? Also noticing your pic of the alcohol aisle, I wonder, do you have an idea how highly taxed European wines and spirits are in Colombia? Or for example, roughly how much of a premium (percentage-wise) can one expect to pay in Medellin vs the same bottle in the States?
I haven’t compared the costs of chicken breasts and steaks at Makro and PriceSmart as we buy from a local butcher near our place. Also we only buy wine from Argentina, so I can’t comment on the costs of European wines plus it’s been too long since I have bought wine in the U.S. so I don’t know the current costs in the U.S. since I live full time in Medellín.
I suggest checking out both Makro and PriceSmart to see which has more you need and which has the better prices for the items you typically buy. I plan to buy from both as PriceSmart as some imported items that are difficult to find elsewhere and Makro has several local products for good prices that PriceSmart doesn’t sell.
Thanks Jeff. If you use a butcher, then I’m sure its the better option. Is a butcher better in terms of both price and quality? Can I ask then what do you usually pay for chicken and what do you pay for the better cuts of beef?
Also, interesting that you order wine directly from Argentina. I’d be curious how that’s done and from whom. And yes, when I do move to Medellin this summer (from Cuenca) I will visit both to see which meets my needs better. My only experience with Makro was when I was living in Chiang Mai, and I was unimpressed. Hopefully this one is better.
True. Price Smart now has SHARP cheddar cheese. In other words a cheddar which actually has flavor. Yuummm. They also carry a delicious goat milk Brie that softens perfectly at room temperature, as well as real, plain Greek yogurt. You can buy 2 lb bags of shelled pistachios, almonds, walnuts, etc. They are expensive, around $20, but store well and are way less expensive than buying small amounts from the grocery stores. I can’t wait to check out Makro to see what they have.
For the difference in alcohol prices from the USA, there are a couple of variables.
First, to which state in the USA are you comparing. Liquor prices vary widely. For example, there is little difference in the price for Scotch Whiskey (same brands) between my home state of Pennsylvania and here. However, I could often pick up bargains in other states. I would say though, as a rule the prices for widely consumed types of liquors are not too different. Other than gin, I have not found it to be worth the effort to drag liquor here in my suitcase.
What type and what brand? I’ve found some alcohols to be comparable and others that may not be as popular (e.g. gin) to be much more expensive. Different brands may be marketed at different levels. Carlo Rossi is a cheap jug wine in the USA, but here it’s marketed with mid-priced brands in 750 ml bottles.. Wine can be all over the place. though, we found some very drinkable table wines at D1 Supermarkets for COP $12,000 to $15,000.
Thanks for the additional comments and insights, John. I’ll definitely plan on just getting hard liquor there and shop for wines at D1 as well as Makro and PriceSmart, and hopefully find some places that sell decent European wines too. Cheers. Jason