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header travelcrafty shanghai Travel Crafty Shanghai
(Pictured Above: Carol Chyau and Marie So of Shokay)
By Rebecca Kanthor
An international city in its past and present, Shanghai’s architecture and style has so many design influences from around the world and China that your eyes will keep busy trying to catch them all. It’s a design-oriented city, but you have to keep your eyes peeled and think like a local sometimes in order to find and appreciate it. If you don’t mind bargaining and hunting about, there’s a chance you’ll find crafter’s heaven. These are some of my favorite haunts.

South Bund Neighborhood

Shanghai Wholesalenotionsmarket1
Wholesale Notions Market (Shanghai Tan Shang Xia)
Address: Renmin Lu 388
Hours: Daily, 8:30am – 5:30pm
Neighborhood: South Bund, Xin Bei Men
Bargaining?: Yes
Beware, this place is addictive, but oh so fun. Ribbons, buttons, hooks, thread, sewing supplies, felt, glitter, pom-poms, and other craft notions are available at the tiny stalls in this five-story wholesale market. The first two floors deal strictly with notions, while the upper floors sell bags and belts. Just wandering around is fascinating, but it can be difficult to say leave empty handed. The surrounding neighborhood also has many shops at street level selling lace, fabric, buckles, and beads.
Shanghai Ribbonshop1 1
Ribbon Shop (Zhejiang Sanding Weaving Group)
Address: 399 RenMin Lu Stall M-11
Phone: +8621 63288900
Hours: Daily, 8:30am – 5:30 pm
Web site: http://www.ribbon.com.cn
Neighborhood: South Bund, Xin Bei Men
Bargaining?: Slight discounts offered
You’ll find plenty of ribbons inside wholesale notions market, but if you’re looking for quality assurance, Jojo Wei’s shop across the street might be a better choice. She stocks hundreds of spools of ribbons, all from one of China’s largest ribbon manufacturers. The ribbons are certified Oeko-Tex Standard 100, meeting European standards for health and safety. Jojo speaks fluent English, is super friendly, and has been selling ribbons since 2001, following her dad in the family business.
Shanghai Yuyuanmarkets
YuYuan Garden Markets
Address: 225 Fuyou Lu
Hours: Daily, 8:30am – 5pm
Neighborhood: South Bund, Yuyuan
Bargaining?: Yes
There’s actually no single Yu Garden Market. The neighborhood has several malls, with several floors in each. You never know what you might find here: From rubber bands, to mahjong tiles, to Chinese New Year and Christmas decorations, these markets have all the small craft materials you didn’t know you were looking for, at cheap prices. Be prepared though, this is not relaxing retail therapy. Narrow aisles and crowds can induce crankiness.
Shanghai Shiliupufabricmarket
Shiliupu Fabric Market (Shiliupu Mianliao Cheng)
Address: 168 Dongmen Lu at Zhonghua Lu
Hours: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Neighborhood: South Bund
Bargaining?: Yes
This huge 4-floor fabric market is an all-in-one shopping experience. Browse fabrics, design clothes with a tailor, pick out notions, and then order outfits made just for you. Rummaging through fabrics as diverse as faux fur, cashmere, silk, and linen is a bit overwhelming, but once you let yourself go, you can have a lot of fun. Check out Stall Number 286 for novelty fabrics made for export, 216 for polka dots of all sorts, and 237 (among others) for traditional Chinese silk brocade fabric with some wild designs. If you’re looking for even better deals on fabrics, you might try just wandering around in the surrounding area, as some street stalls sell fabric for even better prices.
Shanghai Suzhoucobbler1
Shanghai Suzhoucobbler2
Suzhou Cobblers
Address: Rm 101, 17 Fuzhou Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
Phone: +8621 632 7087
Hours: Daily, 10am – 6.30pm
Web site: http://www.suzhou-cobblers.com
Neighborhood: South Bund
Bargaining?: No
This tiny hole-in-the-wall is bursting with intricately hand-embroidered and brightly colored slipper shoes, toys, and bags. The quality is high, and the prices aren’t cheap, but even if you’re not buying, it’s worth visiting just to appreciate the fine handiwork.
Sit down and rest:
Shanghai Teahouse
Hu Xin Ting Teahouse at Yuyuan Garden
Address: 257 Yuyuan Road
Phone: +8621 63736950
Hours: 8:30am – 10pm
Neighborhood: South Bund, Yuyuan
Bargaining?: No
Sure it’s touristy and crowded, but it’s also a welcome excuse to sit down and enjoy a traditional Chinese atmosphere. Sip your tea and nibble on complimentary snacks while looking out at a pretty pond filled with goldfish and the Yuyuan Garden beyond.

Former French Concession

Shanghai Shokay1
Shanghai Shokay2
Shokay
Address: #9, Lane 274 Taikang Road near Ruijin Er Lu
Phone: +8621 54660907
Hours: 10am – 6:30pm
Web site: http://www.shokay.com
Neighborhood: Tianzifang, Taikang Lu
Bargaining?: No
In a trendy arts district cum old neighborhood where long-time residents mingle with Shanghai’s hipsters and artist’s studios share space with laundry hung out to dry, this shop is a rare breed, a socially responsible brand started as a business school project by founders Carol Chyau and Marie So. The shop showcases cuddle-worthy soft Tibetan yak wool spun into yarns and knitted by locals into stylish patterns. Balls of the yarn are also on sale in several colors.
Shanghai Knittingcorner2
Shanghai Knittingcorner4
Knitting Corner
Address: 161 Anfu Lu, 3rd floor, above Everything But the Cafe
Phone: +86 13701693720
Hours: By appointment, for now
Neighborhood: Former French Concession
Bargaining?: No
Opened by makeup artist and knitter Liu Ning, this cozy little yarn shop is located in a sloped roof attic space – the perfect haven to knit up a sweater in stormy weather. Located above an equally tiny café in a narrow lane house, the newly opened shop has a lot of potential (if you can get up the narrow rickety staircase). Beyond yarn and needles, Liu Ning also sells her handmade creations: knit sweaters and handbags and crocheted jewelry.
Shanghai Lifeexperiencepaper1
Life Experience Paper
Address: 849 Julu Lu, near Fumin Lu
Phone: +86 13818865907
Hours: Noon – 7pm
Web site: http://www.paper-life.com
Neighborhood: Former French Concession
Bargaining?: No
Graphic designer Tao Jie (whose English name is Brave Nut!) and her husband opened up their shop in 2009 and have been steadily selling unique paper lanterns since then. They provide plugs for most international circuits as well so you don’t have to worry about a converter. Some of their more unique designs are standup lanterns shaped like light bulbs, Terracotta Warriors, mummies, and the Oscar award. They also sell folding hanging lanterns of various sizes and designs. Occasionally Brave Nut hosts lantern decorating classes.
Shanghai Idlebeats Workshop
Idle Beats
Address: former French Concession, various locations
Contact: [email protected]
Web site: http://idlebeats.com/
When she’s not working her day job as a graphic designer, local printmaker Nini Sum runs an occasional printmaking workshop in the offices of Neocha, a creative consultancy. Visitors can learn how to make screen prints and chill out to music at her open studios. Nini also designs posters for bands, and DJs and sells her prints at local shows. Her designs are edgy, sometimes spooky, and really cool-looking.
Shanghai Mayumisato1
Shanghai Mayumisato2
Mayumi Sato
Address: 169 Anfu Lu,
Phone: +8621 5403-3903
Hours: Noon – 8pm
Web site: http://www.mayumisato.com
Bargaining?: No
Japanese designer Mayumi Soto’s shop on Anfu Lu stocks clothes, jewelry, and bags so stylish you’ll want whatever she’s selling. From the look of the dresses and accessories in stock, she is a fan of pretty little pom poms and polka dots. Her use of silks, vintage kimonos, and colorful cottons just puts a smile on my face whenever I pass by her window. Even when it’s closed the shop brightens up the street, as Mayumi commissioned Popil, a local artist, to paint a mural for the rolldown gate. This street and the intersecting Wukang Lu are good for a nice afternoon stroll, with plenty of window shopping at independent designers’ shops.
Sit down and rest:
As good for people watching as they are for their drinks and baked goods, these two cafés are nice places to rest your feet, journal, and daydream.
Baker and Spice
Address:195 Anfu Lu
Phone: +8621 5404-2733
Hours: 7am – 9pm
Amokka
Address: 201 Anfu Lu
Phone: +8621 5404-0998
Hours: 7am – 12am

Nanjing Xi Lu

Shanghai Ruwa1
Shanghai Ruwa3
Ru-Wa Studio
Address: 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu, #81
Phone: +8621 62185859
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, Noon – 9pm, closed Monday
Web site: http://ru-wa.blogbus.com
Bargaining?: No
Li Jing and her husband left their jobs to open this craft studio, where visitors can learn the lost craft of making traditional Chinese toys. In a converted home-turned-workshop in a old-style Shanghai alleyway (nongtang) that has been slowly morphing into a quiet artsy community of cafés and indie shops, their little storefront and patio is a nice escape from the busy surrounding streets. The couple speak English and host workshops in making kites, cloth tigers, rattle drums, diabolos, and lanterns.
Shanghai Plum1
Shanghai Plumgallery2
Plum
Address: 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu, #37
Phone: +8621 52136565
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11am – 8pm, closed Monday
Web site: http://blog.sina.com.cn/plumshanghai
Bargaining?: No
Taiwanese owner Nicole Teng opened this gallery in 2009 with friends. It blends design, art, and craft together in a peaceful airy space, just a row away from Ru-Wa Studio. The gallery frequently hosts art and craft events for visitors with local and visiting artists.
Sit down and rest:
GZ Café
Address: 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu #162
Phone: +8621 52132139
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, Noon – 10pm
Known as the Secret Garden, it certainly feels hidden, tucked in a residential alley in a converted lane house. It’s quiet and cozy and worth the search.
About the Author:
Author Rebecca Kanthor
A freelance journalist in China since 2002, Rebecca Kanthor hawked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the streets before moving on to work for CBS News Beijing. Now based in Shanghai, she crochets, makes prints, and sews when she’s not working in print, TV, and radio.


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