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Sara Naumann

Guilty Shopping - 580 Nanjing Road

By December 28, 2010

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I used to live around the corner from the old Xiangyang Road Fashion & Gift Market. That was the euphemism for Shanghai's famously dodgy fake market. You walked through the gates and were immediately bombarded with "You want a bag lady? Gucci? Prada?" "DVD?" "Watch? Bag? Shoes?" Guys who lagged behind their shopping-frenzied girlfriends were tantalized by vendors with "Sex DVD? Sex DVD?" It was an end of an era when the market got bulldozed and those vendors were dispersed throughout various locales including the Hong Qiao New World Pearl Market. But I always said you get what you pay for, and when my friends would arrive back home and their $20 Rolex didn't work properly, I just chuckled.

A few weeks ago, Santa (read: me) found himself (read: herself) in a dither. I needed to acquire a Nintendo DS with various games and my friends kept telling me to go to "580". The conversation went something like this:

Me: "[My son] wants a DS for Christmas. Where do I get one?"

Friend: "Go to 580."

Me: "What is 580? What does that mean?"

Friend: "580 Nanjing? You've never been?"

Me: "...no."

Friend, incredulously: "Don't you write about shopping?"

Me: "Well, yes, among other things."

Friend: "580 Nanjing West Road. Don't pay over 500rmb."

Shanghai still surprises me. Much to my shock and awe, I walked into an indoor version of Xiangyang Market. It's a little friendlier, a little less overt and the bathrooms are mildly less disgusting. And, well, you can shop rain or shine.

580, as people even more in the know than I am call it, is several floors of crap - some good quality crap, some just crap. It makes a fun stop for tourists; though make no mistake, that's what you'll be taken for. Prices start ridiculously high. A Blackhawks jersey started at 500rmb (that's a little less than $100) and we worked it down to 200. The walk-away works very well here but make sure you have your bargaining-boots on and don't get too worked up if the shopkeeper says "no way" to your pleas of lower prices. You'll find the same thing on the next floor.

I got my DS plus 4 games. (I said "no thanks" to the chip with 150 games pre-loaded as Santa just couldn't quite go there.) In the meantime, we've taken 2 games back to be exchanged (at least the vendors stand by their crap) and the recipient seems relatively happy with his Christmas haul.


Photos: above - everything you could possibly need in "silk"; below - preserved bugs you didn't know you needed until you found them at 580. 2010 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.

January 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm
(1) John Cooper says:

Hi Sara,
I am reminded of a photo I have seen of a vendor’s outdoor sign in Istanbul which read “Genuine Fake Watches.” Do you any more trust in their products after reading that ?
I personally rely on a watch I bought in a Walmart for $8. It says that it has a movement made in Japan and is assembled in China. It has worked for a year without any problems.
I have a friend in Philadelphia that owns 5 genuine Rolex watches. He says that it costs $200 to have one of them cleaned at his jeweler.
Would you please create an article about items designed and created in China that are worth buying ? I have seen some historic pieces of pottery and jade jewelry that were very elegant. Are these still being made, and is the price for them reasonable ?
Thank you.

January 15, 2011 at 9:22 am
(2) Dave says:

Ahh, the oldies but goodies. The fake markets are great for crap, and I enjoyed taking my sis there for a happy frenzy of retail therapy.

As for Xiangyang, I once spent a bored afternoon teaching a porn seller to say “Hello, would you like to buy some pornography?” I doubt he got more sales, but I bet the guys he approached got a good chuckle.

And John- yes, you can get good stuff here, and I think you’ll find that Sara did an article on Jindezhen pottery a while ago- that’s as good as you’ll find. Very pricy tho, for the good stuff.

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