I recently made my first trip to Marks & Spencer, a British department store that not only carries clothes for adults and kids, it also has a small grocery store and cafe. To the British expats M&S is like a holy mecca, to me its one more place I can add to my list of places to find frozen peas. Yes, you read that right, peas. I've learned the hard way that the local version is not always the same as what I'm used to getting back home, and it is not unusual to go to 3 or 4 different stores to pick up what you might need for a single dinner. So, having one more store to check for those hard to find things like frozen peas is great!
The Chinese love to shop, the many shopping malls are proof of that, but if you want to shop like a local you need to learn about the markets. There are markets for crafts, children's clothing and toys, eye glasses, tailors, clothing, and perhaps the most well known, the fake or knock off market. Last week I went to the Children's Market, a large underground space lined with tiny shops selling everything you need for your kids at a fraction of the price you'd pay at a shopping mall. Some shops specialize in things like socks and tights, or baby clothes, but most have a variety. You can often find "name brand" clothes like Polo, or Gap here too. The quality varies, as does the price, which is dependent on your negotiating skills. I didn't get any clothes for the kids this trip, but I did find stickers, coloring books, and some other fun crafts to help keep the kids busy next week during their spring break.
In anticipation of spring break I also made a trip to a craft market. Just across from the Yu Yuan Garden, this large indoor market is filled with stalls selling ribbon, stickers, pencils, beads... you get the idea. It is incredibly crowded, but worth the trip. AC Moore ain't got nothin on Shanghai's craft markets. You may have to hunt a bit, but you can find just about anything here you could possibly want for a busy afternoon with the kids. There are other craft markets that cater more to the more serious artists with things like oil paints, charcoals, and clay. If you're in need of paper for a project there is a whole street of shops for that. They even call it paper street.
The fake market is one of my favorites to visit though. You can find "designer" purses and sunglasses, silk scarves and robes, and all the typical souvenir chotchkies. It is never boring and I'm always finding something new.