The original town market, Mercado Juárez, covers the entire square block just one block south and one block west of the zócalo. Many dozens of stalls offer everything; cotton and wool items—such as dresses, huipiles, woven blankets, and serapes—are among the best buys. Despite the overwhelming festoons of merchandise, bargains are there for those willing to search them out.
Before diving into the Juárez market’s cavernous interior, first orient yourself by looking over the lineup of stalls on the market’s west side, along the block of 20 de Noviembre between Las Casas and Trujano. Here, you’ll be able to select from a reasonably priced representative assortment—alebrijes (fanciful wooden animals), black and green pottery, cutlery, filigree jewelry, huipiles, leather goods, pewter, tinware—of much that Oaxaca offers.
After your Juárez market tour, walk a block west, to J. P. Garcia, and three and a half blocks south, between Mina and Zaragoza, for a look inside the Mercado de Artesanías (handicrafts market). Here, you’ll find more of the same—a ton of textiles—huipiles, camisas (shirts), blusas (blouses), and tapetes (carpets), plus alfarería (pottery), alebrijes, and some for-tourist masks.
While you’re south of the zócalo, head back up J. P. Garcia half a block and visit the unique private store El Arte Oaxaqueño (at Mina 317, corner of J. P. Garcia, tel. 951/516-1581, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat.). Their diverse, carefully selected offerings run from lovely wool weavings and bright one-of-a-kind pottery to fetching wooden toys and precious metalware Christmas ornaments. Each piece comes with a detailed explanation of its history and the craftsperson who made it.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition