When I have the opportunity to shop in Shanghai, I take it. The city is constantly changing and you never know what will pop up (or disappear).
A couple years ago, I read an article in the NY Times on a new area called Taikang Lu. It was difficult to find and in the process of getting lost, I managed to acquire a very bizarre cross-stitched portrait of Mao at an old antiques shop.
At the time, the area was a small cluster of stores and galleries mixed in with apartments.
Fast forward to 2010 and Taikang Lu is a must-stop shop in every tourist’s guide book. The stores and restaurants are too numerous to mention.
One of the cool things about this area is the Chinese government allowed the redevelopment (after a protest by locals and artists) of the old 1930’s shikumen buildings rather than demolish and rebuild; a pattern all too commonplace. China is obsessed with everything new, and Taikang Lu is the exception – a wonderful mix of old and modern.
Storefronts share space with old ladies lounging in doorways (with socks fashionably planted in their sandals) and underwear hanging overhead. The prices have gone up dramatically, but I’m sure it’s commensurate with the rents. (Not.)
KOMMUNE for breakfast or a shopping pick-me-up.
Their huge bowls of coffee are legendary. It’s a great spot to watch the tourist groups and backpackers wandering through.
Kommune Address: The Yard, No. 7, Lane 210, Taikang Lu, China
DECK ERH ART CENTER AND OLD CHINA HAND READING ROOM & CAFE. Deck Erh is a photographer, traveler, and cultural impresario who hosts exhibits of his own work, and various other art exhibits and musical recitals. Old China Hand Books is a local publisher who reprints and publishes historical books on Shanghai you can’t find anywhere else (and I’ve looked).
Deck Erh Art Center Address: 2-1, 210 Taikang Lu Hours: 9:30-5:30pm
“à ” is a shop that sells blank ceramic China babies. You can buy a blank baby and design it with colored pens. It’s a wacky little concept, which is probably why I like it. Check out the website here: www.toygu.com The name of the store is taken from the French “à ”, which means “at”. It also makes it impossible to Google.
“à ” address: Lane 210, Taikang Lu
SHANGHAI HARVEST STUDIO features hand embroidered Miao tribe clothes and fabric goods. Often you can watch Miao women as they sew. This store is one of the older ones in Taikang Lu (and one of my original faves).
Unfortunately it has fallen victim to price hikes. It’s worth a peek to check out unique embroidery pieces, but save your money and go to Wanderloot.com for Hilltribe pieces at a fraction of the cost.
Shanghai Harvest Studio Address: Suite 118, No. 3 Building No. 210 Taikang Lu