Calle Florida (Florida street), Buenos Aires
The appearance is no special whatsoever - all the shops on Florida are the same. This particular one had an usher or a tout who would invite you more or less aggressively to join the bonanza. I had a need and allowed him to "dominate" me. Quickly I discovered that this was the leather item that I was in need of (after visiting several other shops) and proceeded to buy it. Since it had a little deficiency, let's call it that way, the seller offered to make a brand new one in the "fabrica". This came as a no surprise because all of the Florida leather shops seem to be manufacturing plants too. Do not expect elaborate receipts – there are none!
What to buy: Leather, but it is funny because the locals rarely wear it. Apparently the whole industry is geared towards the foreign visitor. For the jacket that you see I had to part with 200 of my US dollars.
What to pay: USD 200 or so - competition is tight but I have this suspicion of mine that tells me that the "cut-throat" competitors meet on Mondays to make sure that there are no surprises.
Try to go shopping with a local who knows about area and who speaks spanish to negotiate prices for you. The minute you start to speak english the merchants tend to class you as a rich American or European ( I am Canadian) and will quote you in US dollars or justify the price by saying "it's only XXXX US dollars.
Most tourists head to Florida Street as most have only have one day to shop and because there is such a vast array of shops so close together. If you have the time and leather is your thing don't miss the leather district on Murillo, its about a 20 minute cab ride from downtown but well worth the trip as the prices and quality are far better than Florida Street
Avoid any shop ( leather stores mostly) that do not have the prices tagged on their goods, it will tend to be higher than what other stores with prices tagged on goods would charge and more than what they would quote a local.
If you enjoy crafts, leather goods or local art try the outdoor weekend markets at Recoleta.
There is additional shopping on Av Alvear (High end designer goods) and Av Santa Fe (Mid priced goods), Another good place for high end goods is Patio Bullrich on Av. Del Liberartador. If you are into designer clothing go to the Christian Dior outlet on 3057 Lafinur. Mens 2 piece suits sell for USD$300 to $400, shirts for USD $30 to 80.
What to buy: Mens and Womens clothes are less than half of what you will pay in North Amercia.
Top of the line mens or womens shoes will cost about 250 Pesos (80 US)
Leather goods tend to be half of what you would pay in North America.
What to pay: Top of the line mens suits will cost between 800 to 1000 Pesos (250-350 US)
Florida Street in Centro is one of 2 pedestrian only streets in Buenos Aires. The other is Lavalle Street, which intersects Florida Street. All the along Florida Street are many shops, selling leather goods, wines, clothing, shoes, atheletic wear and just about everything else you'd want to buy.
During the day the street is packed with pedestrians. The Gallerias Pacifico mall is located on this street as well as several other lesser known malls. There are street performers all along the street, tango dancers, musicians, mimes, etc...
What to buy: Every kind of store is located on this street. Leather goods stores are very abundant and you can get some really good deals on them. I purchased some football jerseys and bought a very nice leather coat. Some of the leather shops can custom make a leather coat to your specifications in just a few days.
What to pay: The sky is the limit!
Our long walk from our hotel, into the Microcentro heart of Buenos Aires, eventually brought us to the pedestrian shopping mall of Florida Street. This area is close to Plaza de Mayo and the seat of government in the Casa Rosado. It is a bustling spot and consists of numerous fashionable small shops and street stalls plying their wares. It was a bit too early in our 2-week trip to be stocking up on items that would have to be lugged around the country, so we contented ourselves with just looking and enjoying the ambience on this nice 30 degreeC day!
What to buy: The area is famous for it's great deals on leather goods, electronics, clothing and sporting goods as well as the numerous cafes and banks. Also, very close by is the famous multi-level Galerias Pacificos shopping complex. This 1889-built building was originally railroad administrative offices before being rehabilitated into a major Parisian-style shopping complex. It is supposed to be something to see in it's own right, never mind the shopping, but our limited time in BA prevented us from actually visiting it.
Calle Florida in the older section of Buenos Aires is a pedestrian only area lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. Anything you want to buy in B.A. you can get here. Here I bought a box of Havana Alfajores to take back to the office, on the advice that they were a typical Argentine product. Leather is also a good deal, and John went hog wild buying leater gifts for his wife (probably made from the entire cows we ate the night before!).
Calle Florida is a street for pedestrians. You can walk along and find all kinds of shops: women's clothes, men's clothes, shoes, etc.
"El Ateneo" (Florida 340) is an excellent bookstore on Calle Florida.
You can also stop by Galeria Pacifico in Florida 753, which is a fine mall where you can find nice restaurants.
What to buy: In Buenos Aires you should definitely buy leather. It's good and it can be unexpensive, or at least, less expensive than some other places in Latin America.
What to pay: Prices vary a lot.
A leather jacket can vary from US$ 70.oo to US$ 200.oo, for example.
I cannot add much to what others have said about Av Florida. It's several blocks of stores that offer to sell lots of stuff. If you are lucky, you will see street performers which are sometimes interesting (keep an eye out for the inevitable hat being passed).
However, being a bit of a curmudgeon, I didn't appreciate the mass of shoppers/walkers that inundated the street (Saturday is much better), the beggers, those asking (tourists mostly) for contributions to some cause or other, being constantly stopped and asked to enter one store or the other (mostly leather shops), etc.
I found Av Lavalle to be just as good but with fewer annoyances. In December, there were several choral groups of school kids singing Christmas carols. Cute!
Ask a local where you should shop and Av Florida may well not be his answer. Too expensive. A leather jacket on Florida cost around 400-450 pesos. In Mendoza, a similar one was 250 pesos. Check out prices on Av Florida, finish your vacation (shopping as you go) and then do the smart thing.
What to buy: Anything a tourist might be interested in (clothes, leather goods, jewelry, etc) is available in Buenos Aires. However, the same things are being sold in numerous cities all over Argentina (including the airport). Do a lot of shopping at the beginning of your trip and a lot of buying towards the end. Less to carry and you will know what's a good price and what is not.
Calle Florida is a large pedestrian walk street that spans blocks and blocks within the Microcentro. There are thousands and thousands of people on the streets and is quite a sight!
What to buy: There are all types of stores on Calle Florida from women's clothing to men's, sporting goods, wine, shoes, music, movies, and pretty much everything in between. Many of the stores carry similar items so take the time to check out the different stores before buying something right away.
What to pay: AR$30-150. It just totally depends on what you get.
Pretty much if you need anything, Calle Florida is a good place to look for it. Although I didn't buy anything here, other than a nice capuccino at this McDonalds, it's a great place to walk in Buenos Aires.
One tip of speaking Argentine Spanish is in how you pronounce the double "L" or "ll" sound. In most Spanish speaking countries, the word for street: "calle" is pronounced: "Kie-yeh." In Buenos Aires, the double "L" is pronounced like a sexy "shhh" type of whispering sound.
So calle in Buenos Aires is pronounced: "Kah-sheh." A gentle "shh" is how you pronounce it as if you're trying to push the message of the gently aside.
Prior to arriving to Argentina, I thought the "LL" was pronounced with an exaggerated "ZH" sound. But it's subtle and when pronounced correctly in an Argentine accent, sounds very serene.
Just like any small shoe store in the USA, except the prices for high quality shoes are 1/3 less. Shoe salespersons were very helpful too.
There are literally hundreds of shops along Florida and Lavalle streets, and they are restricted to pedestrians. The locals shop here and prices are not inflated.
What to buy: I bought loafers for $55 USD;the same pair would have cost $160 USD in San Francisco.
What to pay: For 2 high quality leather jackets and a pair of nice shoes, around $400 USD. Throw in another $15. USD for a grilled NY cut & wine at La Estancia on Lavalle and you'll experience one of the best shopping days of your life, as well as help in turning around Argentina's economic plight.
The street is located in the city's center. I was told that the Galerias Pacifico mall is the most famous mall on the street.
It a typical commercial area for local people, not for tourists :). You can find pretty much every type of store you want. Leather, sporting goods, cloths, etc.
Besides, it is a good walk.
Ah, and when you see the sign $, it could mean Argentinian peso not an American dollar. Which could be a nice surprise in terms of price since 1 dollar equals around 3 pesos.
What to buy: leather, silver, a typical semi precious rose stone (can't remember the name right now)
What to pay: well, depends on your shopping habits :)
Calle Florida is a pedistran mall in the microcenter. It streaches for many blocks, and has pretty much every type of store you want. None of them are very unique, though. Shop after shop of mediocre leather, sporting goods, mass produced clothing, etc. If you just need a pair of futbol shoes, or something of the like, it's perfect. But if you're looking for something really interesting, go to Palermo Viejo.
What to buy: sneakers, wallets, leather, mainstream clothing
This pedestrian street is located in the city's microcenter and runs from Plaza San Martin up past Av. Corrientes. The Galerias Pacifico mall is probably the most famous shopping landmark along this stretch, but the whole street in lined with shops selling everthing from jewelery, leather goods, shoes to CDs.
You'll also see your share of street vendors, street musicians and tango dancers for your entertainment.
Florida is a pedestrian street where you will find a lot of nice shops. In a few blocks you can find anything you need.
Florida es una calle peatonal en donde pueden encontrar muchas tiendas lindas. En unas pocas cuadras pueden encontrar lo que necesiten.
What to buy: What do you need? Women's clothes, men's clothes, shoes, sports equipment, CDs, chocolates, jewellery, books, crafts...
¿Qué necesitan? Ropa femenina, ropa masculina, zapatos, equipamiento deportivo, CEs, chocolates, joyas, libros, artesanías...
Maybe is a leather goods shop on the Avenida de la Florida. December, 2001 was a trying economic time for Buenos Aires. They literally had employees coax folks in from the streets. I was coaxed in by the owner. He was so nice that I almost didn't have the heart to tell him that I didn't have any use for leather. It was 95°F (35°C) on 24 December 2001. The owner pointed out it was cold up where I live at that time of year. (I was painfully aware of that on my arrival.) Even if I wanted it, I had no place to pack it.