Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Like, the Mall

I mentioned earlier about the preponderance of people selling things on the street. OK it's very common, it's fun to photograph, and it sort-of goes along with the whole "slums of shaolin" motif, but I hope I didn't give the wrong impression of the city. Shanghai has a mall culture only a step or two behind California's.

This is most apparent along Nanjing Lu, which is one large mall after the other. I think even a Californian would be surprised at their scale, these are often seven or eight floor monsters. And there's a lot of them - in the picture below, malls and shops keep on going all the way to the Pearl Tower in the distant background, with the brief interruption of the Huangpu River.

The malls extend just as far in the other direction on Nanjing Lu, cutting halfway across the length of Shanghai! However while the large malls basically fit a super-sized version of what you see in the United States, the smaller shops are a little different - they often contain the crowded bustle you associate with Shanghai's side-street markets.

The malls themselves may be one massive department store, or more commonly, a large department store sharing the space with smaller boutique shops. These boutique shops are often European or Japanese clothing labels. American boutique stores aren't as common, but you do see some, such as this Nike chain store. Starbucks is very common in malls, and the New Brands Mall even has two of them, two floors apart. Fast food is also very common at malls.

The malls attract a lot of window-shoppers, but I've heard people don't buy so much at them. Personally I often shop at the malls because the price is set and I'm at such a loss when it comes to bargaining, with no idea what a fair price might be. Regardless, malls try to increase their volume by having discount stores in the basement or on the top floor, or by having food courts. These food courts are often interesting - the "restaurants" are really stalls gathered side by side, you charge a card at the beginning and pick out what you want, the card works anyplace. There's a wide variety of Chinese food to order. Unfortunately it's never all that tasty and there's always somewhere better to eat nearby. It's still a good concept and I made a lot of use of it when I first got to Shanghai - and I guess it fulfills its purpose of getting people to ride a seemingless endless series of escalators through the mall.

There's also a Wal-Mart in Shanghai, although I haven't gone and hear that it's pretty expensive. I instead go to Carrefour, a French chain with three stores in Shanghai. It's huge and you could probably make use of it for every single shopping need, if you really wanted. I'd love to wax eloquent but there's not much to say - imagine Target opening in a 99 Ranch and you've got it!


Oaktown Crack said...

So what would make a better bastion against zombies? The mall strips or the street shopes?

Jeff Rutsch said...

I can't even imagine...I could walk across Shanghai in half a day, but there's all of 15-20 million potential zombies. Hopefully the practice of cremation is a sufficient deterrent, or things could get ugly.