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The best antique shop in Shanghai is deep into Pudong, on the far side of the Huangpu river. It’s a cavernous, damp, dusty warehouse packed to the rafters with trunks, toys, jewelry boxes, wardrobes, books, wood carvings, and a slew of other antiques. Near a rickety set of stairs leading to nowhere is a display of some two dozen stone Buddha statues. On one visit, I found a first-edition Chinese-English copy of The Swiss Family Robinson, a steal at 30RMB (bargained down from 70RMB).
The furniture here can be refinished, repaired, and repainted according to your specifications. There are a few employees here, and you’ll find them in front of the entrance, sanding and painting pieces. This market does not cater to tourists but, as with every purchase in China, bargaining is still essential. To get the price you want and arrange for the item to be refinished and then delivered to your hotel, you’ll want to bring a Chinese speaker. If you can’t find one but you’ve got some moxey, you’ll be OK; come prepared with a calculator so you can show the number you want to pay and with your hotel address printed in Chinese. The warehouse accepts cash only and there are no ATMs nearby, however you should be able to pay a deposit first and then the rest upon delivery. The antiques warehouse is 1788 Ji Yang Lu, near Shangpu Lu, right next to Lingzhao Xincun metro station on line 8. When you exit the metro, go straight and make your first left down an unsigned side street; within a few minutes, you’ll see the warehouse entrance.
If you’re looking for small knick-knacks or just want to browse, Dongtai Lu Antique Market, just south of Xintiandi, is much less of a trek. This is a market for tourists and the authenticity of many items is questionable, so while it’s an enjoyable afternoon, be sure to bargain hard. Among the wares you’ll find ceramic Cultural Revolution figurines, terracotta warrior statues, propaganda posters, and Chinese comics.