Bargain hunters looking to win the shopper's jackpot head to the Corpus Christi Trade Center, the city’s very own indoor mercado where just about anything can be found at an affordable price - including a toasty, "roasty" corn on the cob (chili powder and parmesan cheese included).
Located just off South Padre Island Drive, the highway that leads beachgoers to the Padre Island National Seashore,the Corpus Christi Trade Center is a maze of small shops and unique stores that sell everything under the shining South Texas sun.
This shopping mecca simply known as the "Trade Center" sits in the former shell of one of Corpus Christi's legendary general merchandise stores, Shopper's World. Over 100,000 sq. ft. of retail space attracts buyers looking for all kinds of goods, but it’s only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, making it a true shopping destination.
At the Trade Center, you can find a new pair of cowboy boots for honky-tonkin'; loud speakers for your car; collectible baseball cards for your kid; or beef jerky for yourself. You can have your palm read; learn a few tricks at the magic store; find a slick designer purse; or pet a flying sugar glider (think squirrel, but smaller…).
You can eat Chinese food for lunch; enjoy a "michelada," a Mexican Bloody Mary-like cocktail made with beer, citrus juice, Worcestershire sauce and hot spices; or devour a local delicacy: a smoked turkey leg right off the Mesquite-flamed grill.
What makes the Trade Center famous (and it is famous…) is its undeniable celebration of all things Tejano. The music and pageantry of the Mexican-American culture can be found throughout the Trade Center in a way that is unique to Corpus Christi.
Ballet folklorico dresses in rainbows of colors and styles, representing different states in Mexico, hang from shop walls. Traditional Mexican cotton dresses hand-embroidered with flowers are sold in every size, from newborns to grandmas.
The Trade Center is also the one-stop shop for baby christenings, first communions, confirmations and especially quinceañeras. You can find the perfect white gown, order a balloon arch and find a matching Bible-bracelet-rosary set in one trip.
While the wide variety of goods and services found at the Trade Center could easily pass for a bazaar, merchants are quick to make note that the Trade Center is not a flea market, or a pulga. All of the products for sale at the Trade Center are brand new, domestic or imported.
A shopping experience at the Trade Center could be quick and easy for the savvy buyer who knows exactly where to go to find a "Shopkins" custom-made piñata (Discount Flowers and Gifts), or a gastronomic bag of chicharrones (fried pork rinds) covered in pico de gallo, sour cream, avocado, shredded cabbage, salt, chili and lime (“Tower Imports at the Trade Center”).
But if you have the time, enjoy the experience of the Trade Center. Walk around with a cold beer and listen to Selena playing overhead. Have your eyebrows threaded, consider an exotic cockatoo as a pet, or peruse the hundreds upon hundreds of handmade hair bows around every turn. Whatever you decide, walk around and feel the Tejano vibe of Corpus Christi and south Texas all under one roof.