As you know I have been furniture hunting since my arrival in Shanghai. People who have been living here for years (Shanghainese included) told me that they've never been to half of the stores I've been to.
Old cupboard - rotten here and there, no longer straight in the middle
The doors of the cupboard
The day before I had guests for lunch and they insisted that I bring them to a few of my furniture stores when they saw the stuff in my house. One of the shops sold junk (or "curio" as they called it) and it was this one that I visited this morning with my neighbour C.
Old table probably had its legs sawed off to become a coffee table
She was really excited when she saw the junk shop and said that she would have to return another day with her hub. The shop is dangerous, dark and dirty - but it fulfils most of a treasure hunter's fantasies. You just want to dig, dig and dig when you are there - and hope to find something for a decent price.
See why I call this a junk shop?
Prices are reasonable, but they are increasing at an alarming rate (e.g. I calculated around 20-50% each month) as more expats turn up through word of mouth to buy from them. You cannot really negotiate as the owner knows that most people who go there are looking for a bargain and he probably suspects that we like old used stuff.
I always ended up buying something each time I was there. This morning it rained cats and dogs and the place was darker than ever - but it only made the whole shopping experience more exciting. I picked out a bale of leftover blue cloth, a small wooden box with kama sutra-like paintings inside, a kungfu bench, tiny wooden stools, a pair of embroidered slippers, an old wooden tray, a used bird cage...
There was bird shit in the cage when I bought it and I freaked out, asking them to clean it up for me. The bench was rotten at parts and had a very quick wax job as we waited at the front of the shop, listening to loud music and the sound of paper coming off the presses in the shop next door. I do not know what I will do with the cloth yet (yesterday I bought almost the same thing in Puxi and had it made into a table cloth) and I have already changed my mind about giving away the tiny stools to friends with kids - I found them quite useful for putting shoes on at my own entrance. Besides I am fond of squatting occasionally and the stool makes the act more comfortable.
Small wooden wedding box
I could have bought similar stuff new - but somehow prefer it when they have been broken into, when they are even a little rotten. I am still looking for a rectangular tea table, a small low table (for my flower pot), vases, flower pots etc. But will take my time as there must surely be more interesting finds elsewhere in Shanghai and I do not want to end up finding something nice and not having the space for it.