When we think of Shanghai, we imagine an economic giant that opens China to the outside world. A city with opulent brands such as Gucci, Rolex, and Louis Vuitton stocked in high-end shopping malls. Only for those wiling and ready to part with their precious dollar. When you stand next to the Huangpu River and look at the Oriental Pearl Tower, you will wonder if there is more to the city than this exceptional display of wealth
Despite the initial impression of Shanghai being a high-end metropolis, the city has many affordable alternatives for people who are interested in buying trendy merchandise. In Shanghai, there is a famous road called “Qipu Road” that has a shopping mall with marked down merchandise. The pronunciation of “七浦” is “qīpǔ” which is like “cheap”. If you want to buy cheap clothes, shoes and hats, jewelry and so on, I recommend you go to Qipu road, I am sure that you can find something cheap with good quality.
I decided to take a visit to Qipu Road after learning about it from a colleague. An expat who has been here for so long that he considers himself an “expert” of Shanghai. His reviews for the street were impressive. I therefore needed a firsthand experience of this unique street located in the middle of Shanghai.
On arrival, I was actually surprised by what I found there. I could tell almost immediately that the mall was a longshot from the typical high-end luxury stores we are used to seeing in downtown Shanghai. The mall is located right next to the subway line 10, so a steady flow of people went shopping even though it was Tuesday.
Out of the many malls in the area, Qipu XingWang Clothing Market appealed to me most. I suggest if you go for shoping at Qipu road this specific mall is good to start with. It joins with the adjacent Shanghai XingWang International Finery City in an enclosed bridge at the second and third floors. Therefore, if it rains, you can go from one building to the other using the connecting bridge in these two buildings.
Why prioritize XingWang Clothing Market?
At Qipu XingWang Clothing Market, this is how the building is structured:
B1: Shoes, luggages, Bags. You will be able to find imitation branded shoes and bags here as well.
1st Floor: Very local clothing and accessories. Always start bargaining from 30% of the asking price.
2nd Floor: A mixture of local and export clothing. Start bargaining from 30-50% of the asking price.
3rd Floor: This is where I’ve found the most good quality items, even branded originals at a fraction of the retail price. Prices are a little less elastic here, and the sellers here are not that interested in bargaining with you than the lower levels. You can find Japanese, Korean, and many American brands on this level. Whether they are imitations or the real thing that is up to you to judge.
4th and 5th Floors: Random wholesale clothes, supposedly export quality.
Clothing at Qipu Road: From Business suits to casual T-shirts
The mall was filled with all kinds of interesting clothing, including t-shirts with foreign influenced stylization and even pre-fitted suits for business types. I saw other foreigners in the mall and plenty of locals who came to visit too. The mall seemed to offer something for just about everyone!
Although most people go to Qipu Road to purchase clothing, there are other options available as well. We also saw stores where you could buy beauty products, hair extensions, and even a tattoo parlor.
Tips for bargaining at Qipu Road (and other underground malls):
What’s up with the black bags?
As I entered the mall, I noted that many people were carrying one or several black plastic bags while they are shopping.
There are several reasons why people use black bags in underground malls:
The main reason is that some of the merchandise purchased in the malls are copies of luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and D&G. These bags are technically illegal to purchase, so they need to be concealed when leaving the mall.
The second reason is that many wholesale competitors will visit the mall and take note of what customers are buying in order to gain an edge in their own businesses.
Lastly, the black bags are capable of carrying large quantities of products that enable customers to buy in bulk and save money in their overall purchase.
Tips for bargaining at Qipu Road (and other underground malls)
1.Go on weekday mornings to avoid weekend crowds, and bargaining is more successful, especially if you’re the first customer of the day (believed to bring them luck or something)
- For export clothes (3rd floor), knock off about 20% of their asking price. E.g. if the seller wants 200RMB, ask for 160RMB. For items in the 1st and 2nd floors, offer them 30% of their asking price, and don’t add on to your price easily. Even if you do, maybe add 5RMB.
- Don’t follow the touts. They get a cut from the sale made at the shop they bring you to, which means the price you pay is marked up even more. Get a friend (preferably Chinese) to help you.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away from an item, even if you really love it.
- Don’t take the “final offer,” and always push to get the price you want. The shop owners will bluff you and try to draw a reaction from you, but do not cave into their demands.
In conclusion, my experience at Qipu Road was educative and very interesting. It is a great option for people who are interested in saving money or sincerely cannot afford shopping at West Nanjing and other high-end streets. It also offers authentic experience in an underground shopping mall.