As a frequent traveller to Shanghai, I am a loyal customer to the Xiangyang “fashion market”. I think I am getting pretty good prices on stuff, yet am still always left with the feeling of being ripped off. What kind of “inside guide” could you give me about prices? — CB, UK
First things first — if you’re in Shanghai, go now. Right now. Put down the water bottle and shimmy on down to the market — because when the weather outside is frightful, the prices become so delightful. The poor schmoes in the market just want to shut up shop and get the hell home. The prices drop with the temperature and it’s about 0°C outside as we speak.
Generally speaking, the vast majority of shoppers there will get ripped off. Sure, every tourist says they are especially good at haggling, and people feel they got a good deal — but they got ripped off. The sellers are expert actors. Local Shanghainese people will get a tenth of the price that foreigners will. Which leads us to our most crucial tip. Always take a local with you. This will always lead to the sellers nagging your friend to help them raise the price for the rich foreigner, but you’ll get better deals. Especially if it’s a weekday.
The trick most people use and the one which everyone should is: the walk-away. Once you’ve named your price and they are getting slightly lower, shake your head, walk away and browse the stall a few feet down. More often than not, they’ll cave and shout you your price.
Some people religously stick to going for two thirds of the original price, and some people even go for one fifth. But the price given changes according to the seller, the weather and amount of customers, just as you’d guess.
So it might be best to give a rough guide to prices you “should” pay, bearing in mind that the money will probably mean more to them than to you, and arguing over 5 or 10RMB is probably a waste of your time.
Men’s office/casual shirts: 35RMB is a decent price for each shirt. But you’ll need the weather and a local on your side. 50RMB is a respectable price.
Leather gloves: less than 40RMB.
“Pashminas”, “Cashmere” scarves etc: less than 20 – 30RMB each.
Watches: Around the 80RMB mark is a good price to pay if the watch is a basic Rolex. They are usually pretty tough about watches though so you’ll do well if you get below 100RMB. And those
fake “unique” branded watches do actually last for a long time. For other higher end brands and styles you’re looking at 200 – 250RMB.
Women’s bags: Your aim is not to pay more than 100RMB per bag. The old styles and models of “designer brands” should be less than 75RMB each. Tucked around the back of the market are crate-type-storage-rooms which are 8 foot tall metal boxes. If you can find them, they have the largest and most up-to-date selection of designer bags, sunglasses and watches, and fair(ish) prices. The newest releases of styles and brands will be upwards of around 150 – 200RMB for medium-sized handbags.
About following people: Take the advice on the walls and do not leave the market. It might be a bit of fun to explore some back alleys and you might even be treated to a walk through a family dinner in order to reach your grotto of shoes, and this is China, so you’re most likely going to be safe — but it’s not worth the risk — or the walk.
Get there soon, as the market is living on borrowed time. Last year the police began increasing their token “raids” on the market and confiscating goods, and the market is set to close in May 2006. This was a mere inevitability after Beijing’s equivalent, the Silk Alley, closed in January.
If you are getting sick and tired of being followed and hounded and harassed: Don’t say “No/No thank you”. Just say nothing. In our experience here, simply looking forward and not replying works in making them forget you and move on to find the next sap. We guarantee it.
And if you really can’t get one vendor to drop their price? Turn around and try the next guy.
Xiangyang market is on Xiangyang Lu / Huaihai Zhong Lu, 襄阳路近淮海路, opens around 9am closes around 8pm, later in the summer.
Also on Shanghaiist:
Xiangyang Market crackdown
Shanghai Expat’s on-going list of “fair prices”.
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