It’s not a secret, the counterfeit manufactures in China copy a lot of goods, and you can find them in touristic cities such as Shanghai. There are many fake markets in Shanghai, but we’ll focus on the main one : the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum’s fake market. Easily accessible with the line 2 (light green), it is a massive underground market.
But what can you find in this market ? Where to find it ? And at what cost ?
What to find ?
Luxury or not, you can basically find anything in the fake market, from underwear items to electronics, and from unusable to long lasting items.
You can buy clothes, shoes, make-up, make-up accessories, bags (handbags, backpacks, clutch bags, wallets…), suitcases, watches, jewels, jade, pearls, toys, electronics, telephone accessories, glasses, tea, Chinese souvenirs, and many other things.
Where to find ?
Exit 7 : Fabric market
There, you’ll be able to make taylor made suits and other clothes for yourself. Find the right store for you, with the fabrics you like. They usually have books full of other fabrics, so tell the sellers your project, and they will find you the perfect fabric.
These items are more pricy than in the rest of the market because they are taylor made. You can maybe try to bargain 10 to 20% off, but please remember that they are made with your measurements, and will be a unique piece.
Some pieces are already exposed for you to get inspiration, and know that some are also available to be bought : they will be cheaper. You can also find inspiration in books they have, or bring a photo with you.
Once chosen, they’ll take your measurement, and tell you the price. Once a deal is reached, you will be asked to pay a down payment. Then, you will have to wait about a week (if not less) in order to go back to collect your piece(s). You can ask for a little retouching, wait a few days, and then pay the rest and leave with your clothes.
Exit 8 : Yada pearl market
This is the place where you will find pearls, jades and other jewels.
Some are real and some are replicas, so be careful. In order to know if a pearl is real, rub two pearls gently against each other. If a little powder falls, they are real, otherwise, be careful.
Exit 7 and 8 : Glasses zone
When entering the fake market from exit 7 or 8, walk straight forward and you will find the glasses zone. There, you will be able to buy fake glasses, and fake sunglasses.
If you come with a prescription, or your glasses, they will be able to make you prescription glasses. Otherwise, they almost all have optician equipment if you don’t have the prescription or the glasses.
Prescription glasses are made within 30 minutes, and progressive glasses are made in about 24 hours.
In other exits, you will find all the other items you are looking for, they are all one next to the other without any logic. Have fun looking into every shop !
At what cost ?
Note that the prices here are indicative/medium prices, you may find lower and higher prices according to the quality of the items, and the evolution of purchasing power. If you find that the quality is bad, bargain less than indicated, otherwise, higher the price a little bit.
Prescription glasses : 140 rmb
Progressive glasses : 170 rmb
Sunglasses : 90 rmb (according to the quality)
Shirt : 50-80 rmb
Football shirt + shorts : 60 rmb
Sweatshirt : 100-140 rmb
Shoes : 90-140 rmb
Boots : 150-200 rmb
Regular coats : 140 rmb
Coats with fur hood and goose feathers : 320 rmb
Bags : 100 rmb
Handbags : 200-600 rmb (depending on the model and the quality)
Backpacks (50-70L) : 120-160 rmb
Rigid suitcase : 180 rmb
Belt : 50-80 rmb
Watches : 70 rmb
Underwear : 8 rmb
I strongly advise you to check the prices beforehand on Taobao, so you have an idea of the prices. Counterfeit products will be more expensive than regular items you find on Taobao, but not much more.
Once in a shop, ask the sellers to show you the best quality items they have. Some do not have, but some will take you to the back room, or bring you suitcases full of quality goods. They will tell you that they are more expensive but you can bargain a good price out of them.
Now, how to bargain ?
Sellers will tell you everything you want to hear for you to buy them something : “it’s real leather”, “it’s the best quality”…
It’s useless to tell them what’s wrong with the product you want to buy, in order for them to lower the price. They don’t care.
Now, I found that the best way to bargain is to tell them the exact price you want to pay, and never go higher (or lower). The bargaining session will be shorter because they see they cannot get more from you.
You will know that you paid too much if the bargaining session was short. If your price is too low, the seller will stop bargaining with you.
If your price is right, they often will agree on a price 10 rmb higher than what you are asking. They are just trying to get a little bit more than what you want to pay, so either you can tell them you cannot pay 10 rmb more for the item, and they’ll agree anyway, or agree to give them a little bit more. It is your choice.
In order to argue on the price, some people advise to show the seller how bad the quality is. I would say it is useless. Just tell them you have no money and you cannot spend more than xx rmb, and that’s it. Repeat that until they agree with your price.
You can also start walking away from their shop, and that should shorten the bargaining session. They will literally chase you down the alleyway to make you buy the item.
Remember to be nice and to smile, even though they seem to rip you off, the sellers are here to make a living.
How to pay ?
In order to pay the items you buy, you have to :
- Bring cash (or a credit card, because there are ATMs in the metro station)
- Or pay with WeChat Pay or Alipay (I strongly advise you to only pay with these two solutions, as you won’t need to walk in the market with a lot of cash… you never know). There is no signal in the market but you can ask for the wifi password in each shop.
When is the best moment ?
I found the best moment to bargain easily in the fake market, is during the week and at the opening time (9:30). Sellers will not have sold anything yet so your bargaining power will be higher. You will not have very cheap prices, but bargaining at cheaper prices will be easier and faster, as they will want to ensure earning money, and not let you go without trying to reach a deal.
The worst time is the week-end, during the foreign tourists holidays, and in the afternoon. The fake market will be full of western tourists, and the sellers will have sold a lot of items, and will not want to lose time when they see you are not easy. They will prefer start ignoring you and attend other tourists who come into their store to maybe buy at higher prices.
Be careful :
Before letting you go shopping, I must specify that it is totally forbidden to buy and bring counterfeits back to your home country, or anywhere else on the globe. If you get caught with those by the customs, you could be fined once or twice the value of each authentic item, plus a 300 000€ fine and 3 years imprisonment for the French customs for example. Usually the fines do not go up to that point but know it is risky.
However, I still recommend you to go and have a look as it is a real experience to do once in a lifetime.