I love Target. It is seriously a weakness of mine. When I walk in the doors my heart races with possibility. I am like a 60 year old chubby man in a Patong, Thailand kid in a candy store. Endless options, eye candy down every aisle and it is all so damn CHEAP.
It probably goes without saying that we do not have a Target here in China (did you know target is ONLY located in the States?). We actually do not have anything remotely close. False. I lied. We do, in fact, have a Walmart. But let me just tell you, not all Walmart branches are created equal. Sometime here in the near future I will dedicate a whole new post to that little doozy of a discovery. Suffice it to say that at the Beijing Walmart there are many more living/breathing things in the meat section than your “average” Walmart. And I don’t mean customers (although technically there were many more of those too). And…poop on the walls. Just sayin’. I told you it requires a whole other post.
I digress. We have no Target. So when I read all these cute home blogs that are all “Just go down to your local ____________ (fill in the blank: Target, Homegoods, Home Depot etc…) and pick up ________________ (fill in the blank: wood glue, chalkboard paint, mod podge etc…), I get super bummed. I think to myself, “If only I lived back home, my house/kid’s clothes/wrapped presents would be super cute”. It is just not that easy here. There are very few “simple DIY projects”. Language, location, negotiating prices and crazy traffic make accomplishing anything in China a bit of a challenge. But you don’t move to China for the convenience…or the fresh air…so you just suck it up (not the air…you try not to do that!) and deal with your Targetless home.
That and you find alternatives. Because, my friends, the alternative to not shopping is NOT an alternative…that’s what I say. So today I am going to take you to our version of Target — otherwise known as the place we go for just about everything or just to kill time. We call it “the flower market over the bridge”. It probably has a proper name, but lord knows I don’t know what it is.
Being the rookie blogger that I am, I forgot to take a picture of the outside but let me assure you it is nothing special. Picture a warehouse looking structure in a sorta industrial park setting. Then picture a lot of Chinese versions of garden gnomes – lions, dragons and buddha-like structures – lining the outside entrance. Oh and don’t go getting it in your head that there are ample parking spaces or grocery carts welcoming you in. There are neither. Just mini-buses blocking the way taxi’s trying their best to run you over and people spitting.
When you get inside you are greeted by beautiful flowers, hence its namesake.
Basically the flower market consists of 50 or so individual stalls — ranging in goods from handmade furniture to pet food, to fish and fish supplies, to beautiful local artwork. I love the flower market. It is where I go to do both mindless or very purposeful shopping. It is where I buy my wine glasses, dishes, get my pictures framed, buy fresh flowers and plants and take pictures of my cute little Beau Beau.
So let me give you a tour…okay?
So a few of these items found there way into my (shopping cart) very full hands. And just to give you an idea of price, I will break it down for you:
Collection of ceramic bowls and trays: 95 RMB total ($15)
2 large decorative elephants: 500 RMB total ($80)
Antique Forbidden City Mirror: 600 RMB ($96)
Succulent Garden*: 150 RMB ($24)
2 Hanging Baskets: 50 RMB total ($8)
*update on the succulent garden…so on my way home I had the option to either save the cat darting in front of my car or the succulent garden. Cat-1 ; Succulent Garden-0.
Grand Total of: 1395 RMB ($224 USD)
Not exactly cheap. But then again I have never been accused of being thrifty…just ask my parents or my husband. On second thought….don’t remind them please! You can definitely work harder and get things cheaper here in China (i.e. travel a lot further or be a Nazi negotiator). I didn’t feel like working hard today. Lets be honest, I do not feel like working hard most days. I did negotiate a bit for all of the above items (for instance the mirror was originally 750 RMB) but I didn’t really fight which is what you have to do to get the best deals. I was not up for that. I should also mention that I have been eying that mirror and those elephants for months now so these were not spontaneous purchases. I knew they would find a way into my house…it was only a matter of time. Kinda like Lindsay Lohan finding her way back to rehab…inevitable. Poor girl. She was so cute in the Parent Trap and that car movie. #beaubetternotwanttobeachildactor
All and all I am pleased with my new purchases (sans succulent garden disaster) and am excited to find homes for them in my hiz-ouse. You know what else? As I walked around the market today, I realized that not having a Target within a 6,000,000 billion mile radius (how big is the world again?) is perhaps a blessing. I realized I am so lucky to have access to all this quirky uniqueness in my backyard. And you can’t beat the smiling service.
And, seriously folks, where else can you buy a live turtle and beautiful armoire? Target, you say? Damn…you are probably right. But I love the flower market over the bridge nonetheless.