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Tailor Made

May 31, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Yesterday’s adventure was to go to the South Bund Soft Spinning Material Market to get new shirts made for Daddybird. ( A suit was contemplated also. I checked, he isn’t running a fever.)

So we hopped on the metro and headed across town.

large red sign for the South Bund Soft Spinning Material Martket with a map

The metro exit was clearly marked and then at the top of the exit was this big red sign complete with map of how to get to the market.

pole sign topped with a sewing machine

This sign was a good clue (and cool looking), but this is actually a competing market. The one we were heading for was across the street.

Street Food

At the corner there were at least 10 food carts extending out into the intersection. Why were they not on the sidewalk?

jewelry laid out on the sidewalk

Because the sidewalk is for the jewelry vendors, it seems. Plenty of jade and other interesting things, but not exactly how I prefer to shop for jewelry.

tailor made goods on display including Christmas tree skirts

You can get just about anything custom made here, including Christmas tree skirts.

I was wearing a scarf on my head, so everywhere I went I heard “Scarf Lady!” I did eventually buy two scarves. That was an adventure in haggling. They were two single color cashmere scarves. Nothing particularly complicated or special (no embroidery, etc.). She wanted 500 yuan ($81.00) as her starting price. I said “no” to that. She came down a little, but not much. I said “no” and started to walk away. She came after me, grabbing for my arm and finally said “okay, 300.” It was still too much ($48.00), but I did want them, so I agreed. We hate negotiating SO MUCH. It is so anathema to the American psyche.

Booths selling tailor made clothes

Daddybird’s shopping mission was interesting, too. He was very specific about what he wanted – black shirt material with a design in it (black on black). He had brought his favorite shirt as an example which had a herringbone pattern to it. The shop clerks would see that and say “I have that exact thing” then pull out their fabric sample books which never had the exact thing in them. Also, Daddybird would explain that he wanted a different pattern like flowers or paisley. In three floors of shops (hundreds of shops) there was only one that actually had a fabric that matched what he was looking for.

black fabric with a pattern

Finally, something that satisfied him. So, we ordered two shirts to be made exactly like his favorite shirt, which he had to leave with them. In one week, we will see what we get for our trouble.

There were several shops with classic Chinese style shirts on display, so we asked at the shop on the main floor under the escalator for a price on having one made for him out of black linen. (I didn’t take a picture, but it is a simple shirt with a band collar, frogs* instead of buttons, and two pockets near the waistline. Not very complicated.) Her starting price was 500 yuan. (This may be a popular starting price for simple things when dealing with foreigners.) So, $81.00 USD for a simple linen shirt, not even silk or brocade. We left that stall and decided to shop around for a better price instead of having to do the negotiation thing. As a seamstress, I find it amusing when their arguments for the high price are that the frogs* or pockets require more fabric. Not 80 bucks worth.

There were three floors and we had been to all three before starting to look for the classic shirt. I had noticed that there were fewer customers on the third floor, so thought we might get a better price up there due to the lack of customers. So, up we went and sure enough we found a shop with linen classic items and their starting price for the same black linen shirt with frogs and two pockets was 350 yuan. Daddybird talked him down to 300 ($48.00), still a bit high, but it is custom made to fit.

In one week, we will see just how well our choices worked out.

food cart serving egg and cheese wrap

Back out on the street, we stopped for some of that street food. At this cart, we got a flat bread, with fried egg, a slice of cheese and a leaf of lettuce. The price was outrageous – 15 yuan ($2.42). We did not buy a second. It was delicious, but not 15 yuan worth of delicious.

flat bread wrap with egg, cheese, and lettuce

So, we went elsewhere to get dinner. The food cart prices outside a popular market/tourist attraction are too high.

*In case you do not know what a “frog” is, it is a fastener made out of corded fabric with a loop and a knot.

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