What is our stance on questions looking for a business that sells a specific item? On-topic or off-topic as not related to travel?

I see that there exist 200+ questions such questions in , e.g.:

  1. Where can I find good quality chocolates in Bahamas (Bahamas airport)?
  2. Is there somewhere to buy used Latvian books in Riga?
  3. Does Estonia have discount supermarket chains like Aldi and Lidl?
  4. Cheap second-hand bookstores in Vilnius

but sometimes they are closed e.g. Where can I get custom-fitted earplugs in Bangkok? [closed], so I'm confused regarding the scope of this website.

  • 1
    Gentle reminder to Be Kind in our comments
    – Midavalo
    Jul 18, 2020 at 22:32

2 Answers 2


As one who thought your question on ear-plugs was off-topic, as a shopping and not travel question, I would like to offer my opinion on the other questions.

Yes, I believe most of the other shopping questions are also off-topic and should be closed. But not all of them. And yes, I know in my comment on your Q&A I said that most were on-topic, but after you responded with some links I took a deeper look and now have changed my view.

I think allowing them has opened the door to questions like (using the example I commented on your question)

I'm currently visiting Tijuana and need tyres for my car before I drive to San Francisco. Where in Tijuana can I buy good-quality, American known brand, tyres and have them fitted to my vehicle?

Now clearly (at least to me) this is not a Travel question, it's a shopping question. But I use my vehicle for travel, and I'm about to take a long trip in said vehicle, so maybe it's on-topic. No, I don't believe so

And I would argue that most of the questions are similar to this. User has traveled somewhere and now wants to buy something. The buying has nothing to do with the traveling, so it's a shopping question not a travel question.

That all said, I believe that there are some that are on-topic. From the four linked in the question, I would vote for Does Estonia have discount supermarket chains like Aldi and Lidl? to remain open. This, to me, is a question asked by a traveler about what to expect when they arrive, and makes it more on-topic than most of the answers.

I think we should expand the existing Close reason to cover off-topic shopping questions, not just price shopping. Something like

Questions on shopping for specific goods or services are off-topic as prices and availability change frequently in many locations. Questions on where to buy items or who to buy from are off-topic as these are not travel related.

(OK so that needs work...)

See also What is a shopping question? (which is, in fact, linked from our existing Price Shopping close reason)

Now, could my Tijuana tyres example, and your ear-plugs question be adjusted to be more on-topic? Yes, probably...

I'm currently visiting Tijuana and need tyres for my car before I drive to San Francisco. I'm sure there are tyre shops in the city, I just don't know what I'm looking for. What do I need to look for to find "tyre shop" in Tijuana?

which could potentially be answered with something like:

A tyre shop in Tijuana is known as a Llantera - there are many around, just look for signs with the word Llantera and you'll be in the right place. Or ask a local for directions to the nearest llantera (the ll makes a kind of y sound)


I'd liken questions like 'Is there a bookshop in Vilnius?' to 'Is there a zoo in Vilnius?' (or swimming pool, gay bar, whatever). They seem to me to be reasonable questions for someone intending to visit a city.

When the focus switches to a specific product then it's clear that it's a shopping question. If the item(s) are clearly travel-related (air-sick pills, for example) then as a community we might be more tolerant, although the answer is likely to be fairly obvious.

For highly specialised items not obviously related to travel - there's no question. They're off-topic. A question doesn't become a travel question just because one is not at home when one thinks to ask it.

  • I don't see how a book is more closely related to travel than some earplug. I'd argue the contrary: you don't need a book to travel, but if you wish to sleep in a train or airplane, earplugs help. Jul 30, 2020 at 3:32

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