Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shopping in BA

Like any big city Buenos Aires has a huge range of shopping areas – there are shopping malls and markets, arcades and specialty areas  - you name it. One street – Calle Florida – combines almost everything into one. It is a very long pedestrianized street lined with shops that vary from very fancy to not so much. Of late a point of contention has become the blanket people, who set up their ‘shops’ on blankets in the middle of the street. It goes on like this for blocks and blocks, with everything from souvenirs to underwear available from blankets or tarps on the ground.


In our district there was a street market on Saturdays and Sundays, known locally as the Hippie Faire. It definitely did have a flower children feel to it – lots of incense and handmade jewelry. The granddaddy of street markets, though, was held in the district of San Telmo. The market in the square itself is for vintage and antique goods. But the street leading up to it is everything under the sun. And it, too, goes on for blocks and blocks:


And if you were ever looking for a literal bookmobile – they have that, too:



Argentina is famous for its leather goods, so one day we set off on an expedition to the appropriate district. Our guide book gave sketchy directions, it looked like it was almost off the edge of our tourist map, but we persevered. And, sure enough, an area with block after block of nothing but stores selling leather goods – stores on the main floor, factories above. It was actually rather overwhelming – how to choose one store over another? It was also 35 degrees C, which added another dimension of overwhelm. But, we carried on and the perfect leather jacket was acquired for Wilf. I found a lust worthy leather bag.

And, it so happened that the street with all the yarn stores was between where the leather goods were and our lunch destination (sometimes things just work out!) My on-line research had told me that the stores were not like our North American stores and were rather more like stores I’ve seen in Europe. I visited Yanabey – Wilf took a picture for me:


Not a huge store, but quite a bit of stock. The yarn is their own label and is arranged on the shelves by weight and then colour. The prices are by the kilo. Most of the yarns have been wound off into skeins and there are shelf notes giving approximations of what weight would be required for a sweater. Being the height of summer in a semi-tropical climate there wasn’t much wool, but lots of silk, cotton rayon and blends. I made my selection and took them to the clerk. She weighed the yarns and did the calculation based on the per kilo price for that yarn.

There were probably 5 or 6 yarn stores all along the same block, all using the same system of price per kilo, all carrying different stock. It was way too hot to be investigating deeply so I took my treasures and we headed for lunch. Just serendipity that the very busy street of yarn stores was right next to the tres chic district of Palermo, where lovely lunch spots were easy to find!