Same-Same but Different: Shopping
In the second installment of the Same-Same but Different series (click here to read the first post in the series), I have decided to explore my favorite hobby: shopping at Target.
Disclaimer: For this post, I actually repurposed one of the very first posts I ever wrote on this blog in 2013. Since no one even knew I had a blog back then, I figured most people never actually read it. Plus, way back then, I was still experimenting with how to insert photos and, of course, I did it all wonky. These photos deserve a second chance. Also, while this is an old and newbie-ified post, it still one of my favorites….so I’m bringing it back, yo! You can do that when you are the big, boss-lady of your own blog. So, here we go:
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 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. 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 Walmarts are created equal. 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 more living/breathing things in the meat section than your “average” US Walmart. And I don’t mean customers (although, technically there are 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.
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 and taxis trying their level best to run you over. And people spitting.
Regardless, I love the flower market. It is where I go to do both mindless and very purposeful shopping. It is where I buy my wine glasses, dishes, get my pictures framed, buy fresh flowers and succulents (OH THE SUCCULENTS!) and take pictures of my cute little children (the lighting is PERFECT).
Basically, the flower market consists of 50 or so individual stalls — ranging in goods from handmade furniture to pet fish and turtles.
So let me give you a tour…okay?
When you get inside you are greeted by beautiful flowers, hence its namesake.
As you wander the aisles and you will eventually stumble upon some furniture shops. These shops have big ticket items, like wardrobes and chairs but also lots of little knick-knacks.
As you keep meandering you will stumble upon some outdoor water features, fish, and handwoven baskets. None of which I have ever purchased, but I am always intrigued.
I mean, how often is your average handwoven basket at Target being woven by hand in front of your face? Ummmm…never.
Eventually, you will stumble upon my favorite section: the succulent shop. This place kills me with all their beautiful arrangments. Let’s just say that, due to my love of succulents and my lack of knowledge about how to keep succulents alive, they know me well at this shop
There are also quite a few shops that sell local art. Some of the art is total crap…but a lot of it is super cool. I have my eye on a few pieces that I think I will have to eventually gift myself when the time comes to leave Beijing.
Isn’t the flower market the best?
So a few of these items found their 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)
One Antique Forbidden City Mirror: 600 RMB ($96)
Succulent Garden*: 150 RMB ($24)
2 large decorative elephants: 500 RMB total ($80)
2 Hanging Baskets: 50 RMB total ($8)
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. Let’s 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 eventually find a way into my house…it was only a matter of time. Kinda like Lindsay Lohan finding her way back to rehab…inevitable.
All and all I am pleased with my new purchases 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.