Today in China

 

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Inside a Shanghai Metro train.

There are a thousand blogs about the fake markets in Shanghai. Lucky enough for both of us you stumbled upon mine. The target for my first trip to Shanghai was the A.P. Xinyang Fashion and Gifts Market. It is incredibly easy to find and located along the route from the Shanghai Railway Station to Pudong International Airport. I am heading to an island off the coast of Korea next week and mapping out my route from Wuxi to Pudong and the A.P. market conveniently located along the way. I saw more foreigners within 200 yards of me in one day than I have seen in almost three months. Because of the heavy traffic and police

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The view from Baoshan Station. Make sure to get on purple line 4 train instead of a yellow line 3 train.

presence this is not the ideal place to get top grade fakes. If you are looking for grey market, the good stuff, this is not the best place to shop, but there are some great deals.It took me about ten minutes to figure out how to order from Taobao and I love the site. I would rather order a roll of packing tape and have it delivered than deal with going to a store to find it. I do

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Inside a secret room behind an AP Market shop.

Know what you want and know exactly how much you are willing to pay for it. You cannot offend the shop keepers in fake markets. The absolute worst scenario is that you, the customer with cash in not need to know my waste size in centimeters or hope that they measurements are

correct for a role of tape. Learning to use Taobao can result in absolute rock bottom prices without having to visit five identical shops and haggle with the keepers, but you have to hope that what you get in the mail is exactly as described on the website. I have not had to return anything from Taobao, but I assume it is a pain in the ass. Places like A.P. market alleviate the returned item issue, but you loose a piece of your sanity unless you can laugh through haggling.

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Inside a secret room behind an AP Market shop.

The advantage is your hand with the worst possible scenario is you leaving their shop and buys nothing. No amount of money is ever enough for the keepers, and they will look disappointed at the end of every sale, but they will follow you down the hallway if your offer is within a realm of your offer. I worked out an equation for haggling with taxi drivers in Kathmandu and it went something like this, divide what their initial off is by about 60%, make that offer, let them respond with a counter offer, say no, repeat your offer and walk away. If they chase you stick with your original offer and keep walking. If they stop chasing go to the next guy and offer them exactly what you offered the last keeper. If a couple of people turn you down go up in price by about 10% and see where that gets you.

If you do not absolutely want the item, if it is unique or necessary for survival, do not pay anything that is close to the initial offer. Everything is fake. Everything is “good quality,” and “a special price for you.” You can get almost anything at another shop a few doors down. We had a keeper try to sell a scarf for 280 yuan and then followed us around until finally agreeing to our 50 yuan price. She still turned a profit.

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A map of the AP Market. Located, infrequently, on the walls around the market.

The good stuff is hidden in the ceiling or behind a couple of trapped doors. I am so happy that those are both real experiences of mine at the A.P. market. There are guys who are hanging out in the hallway saying, “You want Rolex, LV, Gucci…” and so on and so on. These are the guys you need to talk to for the best items, and most overprices, in the fake market. They will take you to a store that appears to have none of the items that you want. After their friend keeps a lookout for the police the bargaining starts. They will want to know exactly what you are looking for or if you have a picture. Tell them you want to see the quality of the goods before you talk numbers or give specifics. Unless the first vendor has great shit you should walk away. Another hallway swindler will come calling quickly after you leave. He talked to the other people, found out that you want the really good stuff, and knows where to get it. Stick with this guy and you may end up crossing through two trapped sliding doors, best day ever, and into a room filled wall-to-wall with the best that the A.P. has to offer.

Try not to get stressed about their initial offering numbers, bargain them down, and be ready to walk away from a 2000 yuan LV bag the way you would a 100 yuan pair of Raybans. They want your money and they know you came to spend. If you are in this market you came because you want to buy a bunch of fake Chinese shit to take home.

Happy hunting from M. James Thompson and your friends at Four Stars Two Bars Abroad

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