Price Smart and Costco started as a joint venture, but Costco has since pulled out for whatever reason. Price Smart still carries Kirkland brand, though, so the relationship is still intact.
Price Smart isn't quite as big as the Costco stores in the Dallas area, but you definitely know you're in a warehouse store. My first stop was to the wine aisle, where I found a boxed deal of 4 bottles of Argentinian Cabernet and a decanter for the great price of $25. My friend David found it first, and I quickly put one in my cart, leaving only one more on the shelf.
After roaming the store for 20 minutes, a young man stopped me and started chatting away in Spanish. I didn't know exactly what he was saying, but I knew he wanted to know where I'd gotten the 4-bottles-of-wine-and-decanter set. I used sign language and an occasional badly-pronounced word to try to explain that it was in the wine aisle for a mere $25. Then this guy breaks out in American English and says he'd already circled back and looked for it. My first thought was if he spoke English, why didn't he lead with that? I've got super-white skin, so there is no way I can pass for a Latino. But after my initial irritation faded, I was happy that he'd tried to converse with me in Spanish. That meant that I looked like I fit in.
For those Costco or Sam's Club die-hard fans, you'll be happy to know that you can get much of your favorite stuff at Price Smart. Everything from pre-made food to cotton panties to flat screen TV's. My cart was overflowing with all of the things I'm used to buying, including Charmin toilet paper, 8 very scrumptious looking Red Delicious apples, an assortment of fine cheeses and olives, a memory foam bath mat, wash cloths and hand towels, chocolate covered fiber bars, and an imported cheese-filled ravioli... not to mention the dozen bottles of wine that I had to have.
If you come to Panama, don't think you'll have to do without your favorite club store. Price Smart has all of the socks, blenders, packaged food and cleaning supplies you'll ever need.