Tiendas D1 is a large chain of small neighborhood grocery stores in Colombia with good prices. The company now has over 500 stores in Colombia. By shopping at Tiendas D1 it is possible to save substantially on your grocery bill compared to shopping at Exito or Jumbo in Colombia.

When I moved to Medellín over seven years ago, I primarily shopped for groceries at the big Exito stores, as it was convenient. I also sometimes shopped at Carrefour, which was sold in 2012 to Cencosud in Chile and renamed as Jumbo.

Starting in late 2014, we started shopping at the new PriceSmart when it opened in Medellín. And in mid-2015 we started also shopping at Tiendas D1. In addition, we sometimes shop at Makro and more recently at Justo y Bueno.

By shopping at Tiendas D1 and also PriceSmart and Makro plus Justo y Bueno we were able to cut our monthly grocery bill by over 30 percent in terms of pesos. We still shop at Exito for some items but also shop at Tiendas D1, PriceSmart plus small local fruit and vegetable shops and also a local butcher.

The above photo is the front of one of the Tiendas D1 stores in Sabaneta.

Inside a Tiendas D1

Inside a Tiendas D1

What is Tiendas D1?

Tiendas D1 is a large chain of small discount grocery stores in Colombia that is owned by Koba.  The major shareholder in Koba is Valorem and other shareholders include Capital Group from the U.S. and IHAG from Switzerland.

D1 reportedly had sales of about $700 million US dollars last year, which was nearly double the sales the company had in 2015. In September last year, the company opened it 500th store in Colombia and D1 was supposed to have about 525 stores by the end of last year.

At the end of last year, the company disclosed that it planned to open 150 to 200 additional stores in 2017.  Tiendas D1 had over 5,000 employees at the end of last year. And about 50 percent of Tiendas D1’s employees are female.

Meats and Dairy section at a D1 store

Meats and Dairy section at a D1 store

Why is Tiendas D1 Growing So Fast?

The bottom line behind the rapid growth is that Tiendas D1 offers low prices. Most people shopping there can save 30 to 40 percent compared to shopping at an Exito or Jumbo store for similar items.

D1 is able to offer lower prices with a no frills shopping experience and low overhead. The D1 stores are small with an average of only about 500 products per store. So, you won’t find anywhere near as big of a selection of products as you will find in a large Exito or Jumbo store in Medellín or other cities, which will have thousands of products.

Products displayed in original shipping packages

Products displayed in original shipping packages

Also, the products sold at D1 are normally displayed without frills in the original shipping packages from the factory. In addition, D1 stores tend to be relatively small and nondescript with only a D1 sign out front. Furthermore, you are responsible for bagging your own groceries at D1 and bags cost 50 pesos. So, bring your own bags.

D1’s rapid growth is also being accomplished with minimal advertising. Most notably, the company has been growing primarily based on word-of-mouth from satisfied customers that are saving money. The most advertising I have seen at D1 is a few fliers being handed out in stores.

Tiendas D1 Policies

Tiendas D1 may only have one brand for some products sold, such as one ketchup brand and one vinegar brand. By not having many suppliers, D1 is able to negotiate lower prices due to the volume they are buying. That discount is transferred to the final buyer.

Tiendas D1 has a policy of not accepting credit cards, it’s cash only. They also have a low price policy and rarely have sales.

Tiendas D1 also stands behind the products they sell. They have a money back policy where you can return a product without explanation and they will refund your money.

D1 stores are open Monday to Sunday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. On holidays they are open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. D1 only closes their stores twice a year, on December 25 and January 1.

Inside a D1 store

Inside a D1 store

How Much Can You Save?

The savings at Tiendas D1 can be substantial.  To compare the pricing with Exito, I recently surveyed the pricing of 20 items at a D1 store in Sabaneta with the Exito located in Mayorca mall in Sabaneta.

Here are the results of this price survey:

Comparing pricing between Tiendas D1 and Exito

Comparing pricing between Tiendas D1 and Exito

The range of savings I found was 7.5 percent to 70.3 percent for the items surveyed. The average savings of the 20 items I surveyed was 35.5 percent. Based on my experience over the past two years, I would say that over 90 percent of the items sold at D1 are cheaper than at Exito.

But on occasion you can find some products sold at D1 that cost about the same as at Exito or may even be a bit cheaper at Exito.  For example, I have seen beer selling for about the same price at both.

We buy a number of products at D1 each month including cleaners, eggs, bread, canned foods, some meats, some cheeses, wines, cooking oil and several other products. In my experience, D1 stores are normally the busiest after work on work days. So, it’s best to go at other times.

Checkout when not very busy at a Tiendas D1

Checkout when not very busy at a Tiendas D1

Where are Tiendas D1 Stores Located in Medellín?

Tiendas D1 has over 140 stores in the Medellín metro area. The company has over 85 stores in Medellín, 17 stores in Envigado, 15 stores in Bello, 14 stores in Itagüí, five stores in Sabaneta (and opening a sixth) and three stores in La Estrella.

The company has over 380 other stores in other cities in Colombia. A complete list of the Tiendas D1 store locations can be found here.

Another of the D1 stores in Sabaneta

Another of the D1 stores in Sabaneta

The Bottom Line: Shopping at Tiendas D1

Since we started shopping at Tiendas D1 over two years ago, we have seen our grocery costs drop substantially. It definitely is possible to save over 30 percent compared to Exito or Jumbo for many of the products sold at D1. But D1 doesn’t sell as wide of a variety of products as an Exito or Jumbo. So we still have to shop at Exito for several products.

By comparing the prices between Exito, PriceSmart, Tiendas D1 and local fruit and vegetable stores and local butchers, we have determined which store normally has the lowest prices for different products. But you should also watch the sales at Exito and Jumbo – sometimes Exito and Jumbo have 1/3-off or even half-price sales.

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