Shopping – Part I
In general, I was disappointed with the shopping. One of the things that disappointed me most when I arrived in Brazil, was the fact that I had the notion that I would be able to buy the famous Brazilian footwear that was popular in the past. But generally I found that many, many of the every day items including clothing and shoes are now from China. The wonderfully crafted shoes of years ago are no longer available. I saw every color and designed shoe you can imagine, some made of plastic, man-made materials, leather, pleather etc. However no longer available for purchase is a good Brazilian leather shoe which gave the Italian market good competition in the past. It is sad really.
Most of the best bargains can be found at various street fairs or outlet malls. However I must caution you, especially if you do not speak Portuguese. Keep silent and look for the tags because even if the item is priced, once the store clerk discovers that you are a foreigner or that you do not speak Portuguese, you will find that prices suddenly, and without warning, go up ‘before your eyes.’
I went into a fairly large neighborhood mall in Villa Mariana, Sao Paulo, where numbers of vendors sell their crafts and goods. I picked up an item that was clearly priced at R$35. Something told me to ask the store owner the price of the item and he told me R$50. So I warn you that if you do not have someone with you who speaks Portuguese, look for items that are clearly priced or be prepared to haggle because the price will be increased just because you are a foreigner.
The malls reminded me of many I have seen around the world, but I must warn you that prices for electronic devices are ‘through the roof.’ I purchased a cell phone for about U.S. $140 and it does not give me as many features as a cell phone purchased at one of the more thrifty stores in America for U.S $20. So my friends, make sure that you take ALL of the electronic items that you will need and be certain to take a number of converters. … The most common electrical outlets in Brazil are made for a rounded blade, and the flat bladed types used in the U.S and Canada will not work. Many of the larger hotel chains have North American type outlets to accommodate tourists. It is wise to take an adapter that works for U.S. plugs.(Taken from the website: http://www.worldcupriobrazil.com: Article: Electric Current and Outlets in Brazil).
Generally I found that the malls had either high-end or low-end items for sale but nothing in-between – I was not able to find any quality items at a more than reasonable price. I tried a number of malls in Sao Paulo and Rio and I found the story to be the same.
I was also disappointed to see so few fashions. Yes I am certain that they exist as I have a couple of designer friends myself. It is just unfortunate that the majority of Brazilians would not be able to afford them any way.
In terms of food, as I said in the food section, there is quite a variety but I found little to no Chinese restaurants. There are tons of Japanese, Italian, French and of course Brazilian eateries and bakeries throughout most cities. BUT my favourite, Chinese was generally a scarce commodity.