February 7, 2014
For the seasoned shopaholic, there’s nothing more exhilarating than bargain hunting in the sprawling, cosmopolitan city of Mumbai. Whether you’re in the market for designer discounts or shabby antique gems, the Hindi expression, sab kuch milega – “˜you will get everything’ – rings true: Mumbai has it all.
Following a prolific economic history in textile production and export, Mumbai is now a goldmine of factory rejects and outlet stores. The latter concept is still relatively new, but savvy bargain-hunters will only benefit from this amateur market. Head to the eponymous Fashion Street in South Mumbai, where you’ll find hundreds of shops and stalls inundated with reject export goods (i.e. minor defects at major discounts). Prepare to do some serious bartering over brand-name clothes, shoes, and accessories, and never agree to pay more than half of what is first offered.
If cutthroat haggling isn’t your forte, Linking Road provides a more temperate retail experience with wholesale discounts. Located in the trendy suburb of Bandra, West Mumbai, the street is an intriguing mishmash of fashion trade, as market vendors pitch their wares alongside corresponding brand-name shops. The best bargains will be had at the bazaar, as ever, but some shoppers will prefer to swap and change between the two.
Be careful with those rupees, meanwhile, and don’t spend them all at once: discounted international brands are just the tip of the iceberg when shopping in Mumbai. Don’t miss the world-renowned antiques store Phillips in Colaba: a veritable treasure-trove of old prints, maps and engravings. Established in 1860, it sells many colonial-era items left behind by the British, including East India Company china and lacquerware, as well as ceremonial wooden masks, Nizam-era royal silver, and various other enticing miscellanea.
Nearby in Colaba Causeway, otherwise known as Colaba Flea, you’ll find an eclectic array of market stalls rammed with indiscriminate items of brass, local handicrafts, jewellery, and crystal. This place is always worth a quick rummage, and serves as an effective warm-up for the notorious thrift den that is Chor Bazaar. Don’t leave Mumbai without experiencing this.
Famously one of the biggest flea markets in India, Chor Bazaar is located in a dense area of bazaars north of the fort, selling antique and vintage items among piles of trash and treasure. The name, which translates to “˜thief market’, is generally thought to be a British mispronunciation of the original title Shor Bazaar (“˜noisy market’), although one can’t help wonder where this sheer volume of bric-a-brac came from. Force your way through the chaos down narrow, grimy alleys to unearth some of the best second-hand bargains Mumbai has to offer, with everything from iconic Bollywood posters to authentic Victorian furniture and spare car parts.
Have you ever been shopping in Mumbai? Where’s your favourite place to hunt for bargains? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Written by Elizabeth Gourd