Paca (i.e. Used Clothing Store) FAQ
For dumpster-divers, thrift-shoppers, and trash-to-treasure-hunters, Guatemalan “pacas” are an endless terrain for exploration. Here’s what you need to know to find your hidden gems…
Q. What is a paca?
A. A “paca” is literally a big pack of secondhand clothing that is shipped down to places like Guatemala by the pound.
Q. Where does the clothing in the pacas come from?
A. Paca vendors are secretive about the origin of their wares, but many like to insist that their pacas are not used clothing and does not come from the Salvation Army in the U.S.
Q. What is the difference between the “pacas,” “Ropa Americana” stores, and “Ropa Clasificada” stores?
A. The price, and the amount of digging that is done for you. “Pacas” in the market are disorderly piles of clothing straight out of the pack, and cost around Q3 an item. “Ropa Americana” store owners sort and hang their clothing, upping prices to Q10-50 an item. “Ropa Clasificada” owners are the first to dive into the newly-opened pacas, selecting the best and finest in the wee hours of the morning. Expect to pay them a little more for their JCrew and Gap sweaters, especially the ones their mannequins are rocking.
Q. Where are the best pacas?
A. Minerva market has a big paca section. Good “Ropa Americana” stores are sprinkled all over Xela and the best “Ropa Clasificada” boutiques are on 15th Avenida just below Democracia.
Q. Is there really anything worthwhile at the pacas?
A. My best paca finds: a floppy wool beret for Q3, a piano keyboard scarf for Q5, and an American Eagle pure leather jacket for Q50. It never hurts to check it out.