(101 Things About Shanghai) Ludicrous Shopping Tactics

Hello, you want buy crotchless bodysuit?

We went to the fakes market today in Nanjing Xi Lu, which is a 4-storey shopping mall that sells only bootlegged goods from hundreds of tiny shops the size of our kitchen. There are a lot of shirts and shoes and ties and small electronics and silk scarves and pashminas and, yes, yes, bags and watches.

Walking through it is much akin to making your way through the various circles of hell, with bony claw-like hands reaching out and grabbing you as you pass, and cackles and shrieks following you as you walk through the claustrophobic corridors. Unfortunately, if you have western-sized feet, it’s pretty much the only place in town where you can readily find anything affordable above a size 38 for women or 40 for men.  Since Doug lost his shoes somewhere in XingPing during our Yangshuo excursion/debacle, he needed to find himself another pair of non-work, non-sandal footwear. We missed his lost fake Timberlands.

We dreaded having to go back to the fakes market.  Bargaining starts at absurd prices, and if your Chinese is crappy (like ours is) it doesn’t readily go down to reasonable levels.  Case in point, while we were there today, I decided to get a cheap plastic cover for my iPod so it wouldn’t get scuffed.

Cheap and tawdry plastic cover

This is the sort of thing which would go for about 35 rmb in the Apple Store at Best Buy in Xujiahui. There are other, sturdier rubbery ones that go for about 100rmb but I didn’t need one of those. I wanted one that I’d find in a Vancouver dollar store.  There are quite a few shops in the fakes market that sell Mac crap, all fake, so I went around to a few and priced them and tested the negotiation waters.  I figured I was willing to pay 10rmb (about $1.50). The first woman started at 35 and went down to 20; the second also started at 35 then went down to 10 if I bought 2 of them (no, thank you); the third one started at 65, which I thought was hilarious. She went down immediately to 40, which was also hilarious. I did laugh. I laughed and I said I’d give her 10. She said okay. So now, as you can see, I have my iPod cover.  It’s pretty nifty.

We also got Doug’s shoes, the same ones as the ones he had left somewhere in rural Guangxi province two weeks ago.  Fake Timberland hiking shoes, with the initial asking price in the high 400 range.  It’s fascinating to see how high they’ll aim when they first start tapping prices into the omnipresent calculator. Starting at 480 then (oh, arm twist!) coming down to 450, then to 400 (oh, the pain! my children will starve!) then somehow, miraculously ending up at 180, which was what we had paid for them the first time, after half an hour of negotiating.  It was like they really did have a fixed price after all and the whole bargaining process was just for show.

Now that we have the shoes and the cover, I am not going to go back there anytime soon if I can help it.

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About MaryAnne

I live in Shanghai. I tend to travel. I cook stuff. I read a lot. I try to scare myself silly with regularity. I write about it all. A lot.