Beijing Silk Street Market

This post started off a a Flickr Pick, but was promoted to the main area of the blog, as the Silk Street Market just proved to be too important.

The Silk Street Market is a landmark in modern Beijing and a popular shopping destination for tourists. It’s also called the Silk Market or Xiushuijie (in Chinese).

jcortell posted a photo of the Silk Market on Flickr:

Silk Street Market in Beijing

The Silk Market was once a series of stalls in back alleys, but it was razed to the ground several years ago and replaced with the current 5 floor building.

Internationally, it’s infamous as a hotbed of counterfeit items. Several multinational fashion brands have focused their attention, and lawsuits, on the Silk Market. How successful they’ve been is open to debate.

There’s no doubt the Silk Market has been cleaned up to an extent, but it would be a very optimistic person who said that there were no counterfeit items there. Anyway, even if there were none in the Silk Market, you wouldn’t have to travel far to find them.

It is worth noting that the Silk Street Market has launched it’s own brand and ironically announced that anyone counterfeiting the brand will be held liable!

A 3D model of the Silk Market from Google Sketchup

Anyway, the Silk Market is very popular with tourists after a bargain. And there’s no doubt that you have to bargain hard. I’d probably recommend you start by offering about 10% of the asking price and if you’ve paid more than 30% you’ve probably been ripped off!

I’ve managed to get what I’ve thought to be excellent bargains (more than 50% off), only to find out later that I’d overpaid. The locals make a lot of money off Westerners.

I hate the Silk Market with a passion! You’ll get hassled non stop. “Hello, Hello, you want a shirt!”. I know you have to expect a little of that, but they grab on to you as well.

On one occasion a shop assistant physically restrained my wife from walking away from their stall. The only way to get away was for me to wrench the shop assistant’s arm away. I had to use some force (because the arm wasn’t moving otherwise) and there’s little doubt I hurt her.

I don’t know about you, but that is something I don’t want to deal with when I go shopping.

If you really want to do this sort of shopping, try Yaxiu in Sanlitun instead. The shopping is similar to the Silk Market, but there’s slightly less hassle. There are also other similar centres throughout Beijing.

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