Great Buys in China…

REMINDER:  Remember that your bargaining might be stalled at a 10 rmb difference – so remember what this is in US currency, and decide how much you want it.  Are you willing to walk away for the sake of $1.30?

Some items are particularly terrific buys in China, and should be considered in your shopping lists:

  • Get clothes tailored (suits, shirts, jackets, tuxedo, dresses, etc.. etc..) – I have a terrific tailor that speaks English in Shanghai, and there are many tailors who will welcome your business.
  • Green Laser pointers – in China they are military spec or greater, high powered, and incredibly cheap.
  • Mao memorabilia – kitsch retooled for export – mostly in Beijing.
  • Silk products – scarves
  • Pearls – Starting from ¥180 for a string of high quality 8.5mm-9.5mm cultured pearls – remember to ask for real silver clasps and a gift box. Note, unstrung pearls have no duty in the US, strung pearls do.
  • Small electronics  (but NOT cameras – they are all from Japan)
  • Mobile Phones – amazing prices, incredible prices, work worldwide.
  • Bags – suitcases, backpacks, wallets, purses, etc.. etc…

Some things friends & family tend to enjoy as gifts from China:

1) Scarfs – you can find them cheap, buy a bunch at once for a discount, light and easiest to pack.
2) Tea – go for a round of the traditional black tea or the flowering tea (little balls) which make a good conversation piece, or a tea set gift box..
3) Artwork – there are amazing artists in China and if you look around you don’t have to pay a fortune.
6) Chopsticks – there are some beautiful decorative sets to be had for good prices.

Everything in China is negotiable.

Bargaining is a little time-consuming and sometimes troublesome, so be fully prepared is very necessary. Bargaining is expected inmost Chinese stores, except in the supermarket or some shopping malls in which the goods have clear fixed prices and the staff is not allowed to grant discretionary markdowns.

  1. Learn a few catch Chinese phrases:
    Nothing opens the door for you like a Ni hao ma?, (How are you?) or a Duo shao qian?, (How much?). Nothing is bought or sold without the large format calculator. Whole transactions can be wordless as you hand the calculator back and forth. But opening with some Chinese will ease you up to the bargaining table and will put a smile on the vendor’s face.
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