If you walk around the major shopping areas like Nanjing Rd, get ready for the constant approaches from hawkers trying to lure you to their shop.
I was just minding my own business, walking along the famous shopping strip that’s Nanjing Rd and I this guy jumps in my face asking “what do you want, dvd, t-shirt…jeans you want, i phone, copy market sir, come to the copy market” and they are persistent, they keep badgering until you look them in the eye and say a firm ‘no thanks’.
As I walked down Nanjing Rd I must have been approached close to ten times. It started to get the better of me, the next person that came up spieling out brand and product names, I asked ‘ok, tell me where your shop is and I might take a look later’, he gleefully told me where it was, a ‘copy market’ some blocks away, and then continued to ask me ‘polo shirt you want, dvd..?’. I kept walking.
After Nanjing Rd and a little curious I walked down to this place that all these hawkers where calling the copy market. It turned out to be two seperate, 5 or so floor, shopping complexes on either side of the road. But with one small problem, it looked like a war zone! Out the front of the large complexes on either side, the footpaths had been dug up leaving just a concrete rubble making it near impossible to get into either building.
As Im standing their, admiring this wasteland, a young girl that had approached me back on Nanjing Rd came over again and said hello. “please come in” she said, how I thought! In we went, across rubble and up some stairs that hadn’t been cleaned in the last century.
For a young hawker Helens english was good, almost conversational and she asked where I was from, for a while we chatted about Australia, and then about the places I’d been in China as we navigated our way through the rubble. On the way inside her Aunty even came over to say hello, who was the boss of the store apparently.
So, we got talking about their many different goods and I was happy to go have a look, and once past the rubble and inside we went down to a lower floor in a rickety old elevator. When the door opened and I stepped foward all I could see was a heap of closed shops, with walls and floors all covered in a thick dust, and no or little lighting. This place was abandoned, almost.
We walk past some of the closed shops to see a group of chinese people all sitting around on upturned crates, some alseep, some talking, and when they see me they suddenly jump up, ‘hello sir, welcome, what are you looking for?’…
‘Nothing really’ I replied, ‘I’m just following Helen around’ I said jokingly, to which one lady quickly jumped in with ‘no problem, just look, come in’. The door of the seemingly abandoned shops opens up and I’m led inside with Helen and this lady.
The door is shut behind us, hmmmm, why the secrecy I wonder. The lady starts showing me all her stuff, including all sorts of different brand shirts and other clothing. I let her know that I pretty much wasn’t interested in anything she had, and told her I had already bought much that I needed back in Xian at the Muslim Quater, she knew the place and it was kind of an ice breaker as she dropped the hard sell and we started to chat.
I asked what had happened here, and asked if the place was getting ready for refurbishment or demolishment and she said the police had come through and shut down all the shops that were selling anything that looked like fakes.
I laughed, and said what about the silk market in Beijing, or the Ya Show clothing market there, what about the markets in Xian, which are all bold displays of disregard for brand names? She said one word ‘Expo’, Shanghai is hosting the world expo and apparently officials are shutting down all the stores selling copies and fakes prior to the event.
So, I wonder who decided to also dig up all the footpaths out the front…
It was pretty obvious these people where doing it tough, and they where going to any length to trying to sell their stock. Including sending hawkers out into the nearby major mainstream shopping streets such as Nanjing RD, and secretly opening their stores to possible buyers.
I probably could have done an incredible deal on some of this stuff but I just didn’t need it. So, I say goodbye to that store owner, up goes the door and I walk around this shopping complex, come wasteland, a little more with Helen and see many people standing out the front of their stores with the doors shut. As I walk past the doorway of the shops the doors come open a little ‘shirt you want, belt….t-shirt, polo’..
Their tenacity is facinating and I really felt sorry for what these people where going through…in reality, the criminal is probably the person who charges 10 times too much for a simple shirt due to the fact it has their logo on it…..
For detailed info on shopping malls, markets and must visit stores see Go Shop Shanghai website.