|Subject: Shopping while traveling|
Linda and other Ziners,
Shopping eh? Well, our experience has turned up a few great
destinations. Crafts are high on our list but I will offer
and other finds.
Chiang Mai's night market has fabulous deals. There are brand names and brand names so buyer beware. But we did come away with Levis for under $10.00.
I prefer Filene's Basement in NYC over the Boston outlet. Discount malls throughout the U.S. often offer great bargains on labels. In my experience, Oregon, Illinois and Michigan have been great finds.
There are a number of designer outlets in the northern part of Italy offering Gucci, Armani, etc. at a fraction of the cost in North America. The Russian Market in Beijing used to offer bargains but I'm not sure this is still the case.
Generally, I would advise shopping for local goods in any country.
For example, olive oil soap, which is the best soap you can buy, is $4.00 a bar in areas around Marseilles and sells for $10.00 plus in Canada. Waterford Crystal and Parian china in Ireland are a steal compared to prices outside of the country. Same goes for Limoges in France. For travellers to the Aran Islands, women have stalls at the ferry dock and they sell handknit sweaters for 1/2 the price you will pay outside of Ireland.
Don't forget the bridges in Venice. Vendors sell high quality leather goods but buy what you see. They won't be in the same spot the next day. I still get compliments on the leather bag that I bought 10 years ago for $25.00. The stalls around Santa Croce in Florence can be worthwile if you are picky.
The area around city hall in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is open to vendors. Mostly, you will find First Nations crafts and the silver jewellery of the Indian Nations is beautiful. Another great spot to buy silver is Taxco, Mexico. Quality, design and craftsmansip appear to be good. Remember to check for the quality certified number inside any piece you buy. Taxco vendors also offer beautiful boxes made of teawood. Most appealing are the colours and cover design. I bought two boxes for less than $10.00.
Our best acquisitions to date: A pashmina shawl from Nepal for $10.00. They are selling for $200+ here in Toronto. Hand painted silkscreens from Kathmandu (three for $25). They are magnificent and cost at least four times that to frame. They hang in our living room and remind us daily of the courtesy and kindness we encountered in Nepal. The bead market is a must-visit. Nepalese women bring beaded necklaces to friends when they visit. I bought a necklace for every woman I know. Fifteen necklaces were under $10.00.
Very often, travellers pass up local goods because there are so many of them around in the local markets. When we come home we realize that these goods are not always exported and we passed up something beautiful and memorable from our trip. We have a brass and rosewood table that we bought in Morocco 30 years ago (and carried in our backpacks for six weeks through Europe) in our living room. We paid next to nothing for it, and a Canadian deparment store had a Voyaage to the Sun some years ago selling the same item for $300.00. I know we didn't pay that amount because our airfare was only $290 at the time. Memories are important, however you bring them home. Lucy, Toronto