I have another post today with no cards, just an update from Shanghai.
Today I had a shopping adventure. I had heard that you can easily get knock-off handbags of top designer names in China. From what I understand there is a whole racket that goes on where the bags are made in the same factory as the 'real' ones but that they run a hidden shift during the dormant hours. I don't know if the bags I bought are that situation, but most likely they are made with the same fabrics, leathers and grommits as the real ones or maybe they are cheap imitations with just a phony brand name on them!
So I was on the hunt for a few things.
First on my list was a Kate Spade bag for my sister. No luck on that one. Second on my list was a small coach bag for Jessa. Success. Third on my list was a Nintendo DS game in chinese. Success. Lastly, anything else that caught my eye. You guessed it, sucess.
One the ladies in the local office wrote down the address of the market for me and described to me what to expect. Of course it is big time bargaining so I was prepared.
The cab ride was about 30 minutes and they dropped me off in front of a museum. The shopping was underground the museum so as I started to walk to the stairs area a chinese man came and began to escort me. He asked 'nice lady, what are you shopping for.' I said a coach bag and he said 'okay, I'll take you.' So he walked with for the full 5 minute walk into the store area and took me to a particular shop. There a lady talked to me and opened up the display case (like something from the Adams family) and escorted me to the 'hidden' room area. She had channel, gucci.. I don't even know all the brands. I didn't like any of her bags but she was very insistent. I left the store and my escort man took me to another shop. There I did find a bag I liked and after quite a bit of haggling (70% less than original offer) I had a deal. I am not convinced I got a great deal, but I paid about $43.00 for a small coach bag. My escort man then kept asking me what else did I want to buy. I said the pokeman game so he took me to another store. I wasn't willing to pay a lot for that and paid more than I wanted but got it for a good price. After that my escort man deserted me. I think he realized he wasn't going to get much commission from the sales since I wasn't a big spender.
On my own I wandered around. Each store had similar things and all of them were being friendly but asking 'nice lady come to my store...' It was hard to browse because as soon as you showed any interest they wanted to get to negotiating. Here is how it would work. If I found anything I was interested in I would ask the price. They would get a big calculator and start saying 'good price for you...' and then punch a number on the calculator. That was the starting price. Then I would say, no too much. They would say 'what is your price, what price do you want to pay.' I would then put my number in the calculator. They would shake their hands and act insulted. 'no, no - my cost higher...' They would offer slightly less and back and forth we'd go.
There was one older couple who was selling iphone covers. I was asking if they had any covers with bling and they had no idea what I was saying. I tried sparkly, glitter - I even pointed at my wedding diamond but they didn't get it. I finally settled on a subtle (but classy) silver cover with an apple log on it. I felt bad for them and paid more than I probably should have. Usually I only paid 30% of the asking price. For them I paid almost 50% of their first offer for my cover. They looked like they might not eat if I didn't buy and it was still a good price for me at less than $10.00.
One lady was mad at me. She was selling Le sport sac bags and I loved many of them but made her pull out several different styles in several different patterns. I was there for 20 minutes. She wanted me to buy all of the bags and I was tempted to buy a bunch. I didn't have a lot of money left at that point (of course it is all cash) but wound up buying 3 from here for not a lot of money. She saw me (american) and had hoped for a bigger sale.
I totally felt like fresh meat to a hungry mob. I'm sure I am exactly the customer they hope come by. American with cash in hand! I survived the experience and have a few nice things as a result.
So for about $120.00 here is what I got:
3 LeSac bags (1 large, 1 medium and 1 small)
1 coach small bag (orange leather trim)
2 pairs of Tiffany earrings
1 small unknown brand purse
1 pokeman DS game
1 iphone cover.
and a story to boot!
So today I head to airport for my long journey home. It will be 24 hours from when I leave Shanghai till I arrive in Boston. Since the time change is 12 hours, I will leave in the morning and arrive home that same night. I am not looking forward to the traveling, but am eager to get home to my family, my dogs and my bed!