Specialist shops are the ones to head for in Elche when you can't find what you're looking for in a supermarket. You will find specialist shops cover a broad spectrum in Spain and are handy, and necessary for locals and visitors. Many locals will buy their general every day products from their nearest supermarket. However, when it comes to products such as meat, cheese, bread, pickles and preservatives, they tend to choose to shop at a delicatessen. This ensures top quality, fresh products and a wider choice. Then there are the necessary specialist shops such as tobacconists and pharmacies. The reason being, these type of products cannot be purchased anywhere else.
Many first time visitors to Spain get caught out when heading off to buy a packet of cigarettes or tobacco. They arrive at their nearest corner shop or supermarket only to find they don't stock any tobacco products. This is due to the fact that by law in Spain only tobacconists can sell these goods. However, they do stock an excellent range of cigarettes, cigars, rolling tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigarette machines, rolling machines, filters, rolling papers and many other products. If you are out and about you will find some bars will have cigarette machines. This i'm afraid is the only other alternative. Don't forget, all tobacconists close between 2pm – 5pm for siesta.
Pharmacies fall under similar laws to those for tobacconists. Aside from beauty products and maybe throat lozenges, any tablets or medicine has to be purchased from a pharmacy. These include any painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. On the plus side, pharmacies in Spain sell certain drugs you would need a prescription for in countries like UK. These include certain strong painkillers such as those containing codeine, and asthma inhalers such as Ventolin.
These are not exactly specialist shops, but more of a local institute in Spain. Chino is by no means a derogatory word but rather the title of Chinese bric-a-brac shops found throughout Spain. Some are small little corner shops and others huge warehouses that stock everything, including the kitchen sink! Yes, the buyers who handle the stock of these shops certainly earn their wage. The larger Chino's usually do a range of pre-packed consumables and cold drinks, including in some cases, beer and wine. They have a huge range of household and garden products, clothing, shoes, accessories, sportswear, beachwear, ornaments, trinkets, gadgets, electronics and toys.
When considering specialist shops, many of us think of where we can find products from our home country. The British supermarket chain, Iceland is by far the most popular expat shop on the Costa Blanca. There are two branches within a short drive from Elche. The nearest is in San Fulgencio at 30 minutes drive and the other is 40 minutes drive away in Torrevieja. Other expat shops you will find in Elche includes Indian stores. These are great for those authentic spices and exotic juices such as coconut water. Russian and eastern European shops also offer a taste of home, especially if you insist on only drinking the best vodka or fancy a jar of Strong Steve sauce.
These are the specialist shops most popular with locals. Yes you can buy Serrano ham, chorizo sausage and olives in a supermarket, but never as good as in a delicatessen. These shops are amazing and will easily empty your wallet too. For those with a discerning palate, delicatessen shops are like a Santa's grotto. Counter tops groan under the weight of marinated olives and hunks of cheese. Above, Serrano hams are aged to perfection and strings of cured sausage hang like fairy lights. Shelves are stacked with tinned delicacies, and the smell of freshly baking bread and pies is heaven. Specialist shops certainly do have their advantages over supermarkets.