Time Out search the streets of Shanghai to find some of the best vintage and charity shop hotspots
One of our favourite markets in the city, this collection of stalls under the Line 3/4 metro contains not just one bargain shop, but dozens of them. This is where a number of vintage sellers come to supply their Taobao or pop-up market shops and though you’ll need to come with plenty of time and patience to rummage around, you can pick out some great finds at rock bottom prices easily here. This secondhand market is a haven for those with an eye for vintage or retro bargains – among some truly terrible fashion disasters you can pick out incredible, unique pieces. Spread out in two enclosures either side of Anshun Lu, the market is particularly good for hunting out leatherwares such as jackets and shoes from 60RMB and bags at around 350RMB, at a fraction of the prices charged by many established vintage stores in the city.
Mulan Huage Furniture
Is a thrift shop less of a shop if it’s just a heap of things piled under a sheet of corrugated iron? Absolutely not, we say. Commonly referred to as an antiques market or a curio shop, Mulan Huage Furniture is more akin to a junkyard, with teetering towers of wooden chairs and tables looming over piles of Buddhas, often lying separately from their heads. Located in a small industrial estate right beside Lingzhao Xincun metro station, it’s a chaotic, dust-cloaked mess of furniture and household collectibles that in places is almost impossible to navigate, but therein lies its beauty. Depending on what’s there when you visit, old-school tea leaf and biscuit tins (of the sort that Jonas Design turn into lamps and clocks) can be found from around 40RMB, small jewellery boxes hand-painted with the characters for double happiness are around 60RMB and classic wooden bird cages start at 100RMB. More expensive items are available too – a large teak chest of drawers has an asking price of 800RMB and a double-headed gramophone is available for 2,300RMB. Bargaining is advised, but bear in mind that you can ask Mr Sun, who runs Mulan Huage Furniture, for repairs, fresh licks of paint and even home delivery for your purchases. Be warned though, that while for some this is an Aladdin’s cave of goods; to others it really is just a heap of old junk.
Shanghai Book Traders Used Books
This tucked-away shop is a gem if you’re hunting for English-language reads that won’t break the bank. The tiny space is packed from floor to ceiling with shelves of books; have a good rummage through the stacks of books (under the very watchful eye of the owner) and you can find some great bargains. We find old favourites in Watership Down (8RMB) and a range of Thomas Hardy works for 12RMB, along with popular modern thrillers from Dan Brown and John Grisham. Another huge draw to this store is the huge range of different publications. Piled high in the middle of the space are hundreds of magazines including back issues of the Economist (12RMB), Conde Nast Traveller (15RMB), Elle (20RMB), and Vogue (25RMB) – many only a week or so old, and vastly cheaper than at stockists elsewhere in the city (the Economist’s cover price in China is 75RMB for example). There is also a limited range of Chinese language magazines and books to dip into.
Shanghai Charity Foundation Shop
The first proper charity shop we’ve been able to pin down in the city, this store donates all proceeds to the Shanghai Charity Foundation, which helps people in need in remote communities. It’s rather bare as shops go, with the items a bit too spread out on the shelves, yet there are actually some interesting items to be found, and at rock-bottom prices. Don’t be put off by the fact there are far too many staff, watching your every move; have a mooch through an interesting range of goods – stuffed toys, books and magazines all from just 3RMB each, along with a slightly random range of home items – lightbulbs (7RMB), toothpaste (4RMB), lighters (2RMB) and a cutlery set from 2RMB. There are also brand new full wok and pan sets from 150RMB, and a few items of clothing dotted around from 20RMB and upwards.
Shanghai Secondhand Store
This unexpected treasure trove is a bit of a surprise on several counts. Firstly, it’s not really a ‘store’, but a mass of secondhand goods gathered together in an apartment block near Dailan Lu (it’s only open by appointment).
Enterprising founder Jane Yang runs the store and website
from her flat, collecting a wide range of second-hand items for both sale and rent. If you’re setting up home, a quick look around here will throw up a lot of the things you probably need meaning you won’t have to brave Ikea. There is a huge array of glasses, plates, cups, knives and cutlery at great prices (from 100RMB for a set). Have a slightly deeper dig and you’ll find items such as a huge porcelain-style blue vase for 100RMB, a 15-knife block for 150RMB, a set of brand new tea light holders for 20RMB, a tennis racket for 30RMB and a pink rabbit cage for 30RMB. We also spied speakers, a Monopoly set, roller blades, chess sets, golf clubs and a range of different household heaters and radiators (40-320RMB) alongside several tall shelves of books in both English and Chinese, ranging from 15RMB for paperbacks to 30RMB for hardbacks.
Shenhui Secondhand Store
Just as we went to press, this large shop opposite Cotton’s on Jianguo Xi Lu started a major renovation. It’s not clear exactly what will emerge from the building work on the top floor, but the basement remained untouched at time of writing. It’s a great place to find some good deals on a whole range of items, from the functional to the unusual. You might have to look past quite a few tattier items before finding something you want – there’s an excess of worn-looking bedframes and bland cabinets – but if you’re undeterred, you can find some very unusual delights, such as a large wooden seat in a traditional Chinese style (280RMB), a fabulous wooden hat stand (120RMB) and several old vintage typewriters (500RMB) – all at prices that won’t break the bank.