Shopping in downtown Quito

My 20 year-old daughter Jamie and 10 year-old granddaughter Alexia and I decided to have a girls’ day out today. So we hopped on the trolley and made our way downtown. Now, for those of you who know Quito, this might be confusing, because nowadays people refer to “downtown” as the business sector, which actually lies in the northern part of the city. For those of us who grew up in Ecuador’s capital city, however, “downtown” will always be the historical/colonial part of the city.

Here’s a shot of one of the main colonial plazas: Santo Domingo. This is where we got off the trolley and headed up the street to my favorite notions store.

Plaza de Santo Domingo - Quito, Ecuador

Plaza de Santo Domingo - Quito, Ecuador

On the way, Alexia pointed out how much she liked the door to this chapel, which is actually very simple compared to many of the larger churches downtown:

colonial chapel in downtown Quito

We then turned the corner onto one of the “main” streets downtown. That’s Jamie and Alexia with their backs to the camera, and a shot of what the buildings look like typically in this part of town. You can’t quite see it in this photo, but just two blocks down this street is the Presidential Palace.

A street in the colonial sector of downtown Quito

We have reached my favorite store downtown! Believe it or not, this inky, dinky little place houses plenty of goodies… and at incredible prices!

Almacén León, Quito, Ecuador

A great little store for sewing supplies

The owner is very warm and attentive, and is quite happy to cut 10 meters of the greatest poly/cotton batting you could imagine (she also managed to duck down just in time to avoid the camera!). I buy 5 meters of “regular” batting and 5 meters of fusible. It is 2 meters wide, and at US $1.80 a meter, I count myself lucky to have found it at this store (have not found it anywhere else).

This is also where I purchase my thread. It is practically impossible to find 100% cotton thread here, so I depend on visitors from the U.S. to bring that down for me. But this is a great all-purpose spun polyester thread that most people use for sergers, and that I like because it’s smooth and – more than all – very little breakage. At another US $1.80 for each 10,000 yd cone, it’s another no brainer. On the shelf underneath you can see rolls of velcro – you can ask for as little or as much as you like and she will cut it for you. That’s not on my list today, but I do get some nice, fusible interfacing.

spools of thread

My last purchase here: zippers. Her selection today is quite respectable and I buy twenty 25″ zippers. Hey, at ten cents a zipper, I think my pocket can afford it! One of these days I am going to “splurge” and invest in a selection of the tulles, organzas and satins you see on that upper shelf.

tons of zippers

After a short stop at a fabric store to take a look at their selection (no 100% cotton, but a few nice blends) and a couple of meters added to our shopping bag (again, at $1.80 a meter – $1.80 certainly seemed to be the operative word today!) , we wandered around a little more just enjoying the sights, until we finally made our way over to an outdoor café for lunch. After weeks and weeks of cold and rain, it was nice to enjoy the warmer weather.

After lunch we walked over to the “Casa San Marcos.” This is a colonial house that was recently restored and is run by a friend of ours. It’s one of those very exclusive places (by appointment only), with an art gallery and really nice (and expensive!) antique shop. They also cater special events… all very hoity-toity. The place is absolutely beautiful!

Casa San Marcos

Back at home it’s time to unpack and admire our purchases: if you ask me, I think we did quite well, and kept the expense down to right under $35. I’m a happy camper.

sewing supplies

This entry was posted in Life in Ecuador, Machines, Supplies, & Notions. |Comments closed


  1. Posted October 17, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Interesting about your shopping spree, please give me the address of Almacenes Leon.
    Thank you

    • Posted October 18, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      There are two shops. The one downtown is on the corner of García Moreno y Bolívar #399 (about 3 blocks south from the Presidential Palace). Then there is another one one the north side of the city, on Av. La Prensa N57-145 y Fernández Salvador. Hope this is useful.