I'm looking for ways to find brick&mortar stores where I can buy a given item in person, in a given city. For example,
Q: Where can I find kale in Cancun? (A: at Chedraui)
Q: Where can I buy a Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop in Barcelona? (A: nowhere, and not with a US keyboard layout anyway)
So far I'm aware of three ways to discover this kind of information:
- Apply to join, then ask on the Facebook group for the location, and hope someone is familiar with the specialty item. In some cases, you can search the group before you apply, but Facebook groups are terrible at sharing knowledge with the rest of the world - most are private, and not indexed by search engines. This sort of worked for the "Lenovo laptop in Barcelona" question, by following one of the answers.
- Search for the item on Google Shopping and painfully weed out online stores, stores that don't have local inventory etc.
- Search on Google Maps and essentially hope for keyword spam/SEO in the names of businesses (e.g. "Cell phone fix Apple Samsung Huawei").
Online stores would be a second choice, because:
- In some countries you can't buy anything online without a local identification number. In Colombia, I couldn't buy stuff from MercadoLibre for the life for me. In Brazil, you need a "CPF" to order anything (to the point that online generators of fake CPFs exist) etc.
- It won't arrive on time. As a traveler you may not have the same address for very long and you don't know how long your item will take to reach you. That applies to online retailers with a physical presence, where you could pick up the item in store but the shipping time may vary widely. In the "Barcelona laptop" case, my laptop was stolen on my way to Barcelona, and I was staying there only one day.
- Your credit card might not work online. For the Barcelona X1 Carbon problem, I found a Spain retailer, but they rejected every single card I tried. When I asked a Spanish friend to purchase the laptop, the retailer accused him of phishing (!?) and demanded a copy of his passport and credit card to be sent, via email.