Calle Florida (Florida street), Buenos Aires
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)
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 :)
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.
If you've come to Buenos Aires to shop, then you will want to check out Calle Florida, one of Buenos Aires pedestrian only streets with wall to wall shopping, starting at Plaza San Martin pretty much all the way to Diagonal Norte. There's Galerias Pacifico at Av. Cordoba, a huge shopping mall with around 180 shops, leather shops lining both sides of the streets, other malls carrying electronics and clothes and well, you name it!
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.
Blaque is a women's leather shop, they sell beautiful leather bags, jackets and shoes, but what caught my eye was this wonderful black bag in the window, so I had to check it out.
The salesgirl was so nice and asked us if we needed with anything, to just her. I wanted to see the bag in the window and she promptly brought it to me. The bag was a large travel size bag, big enough to hold my laptop and some other items, so I decided to buy it. After deciding on that bag, I spotted a beautiful aqua blue chain link purse that would go perfect with the aqua blue sandals that I had just bough, so I bought that bag too.
The store was quite crowded, which indicated to me that their goods and service are good.
What to buy: They carry a nice selection of bags, purses, shoes, boots, leather jackets and some jewelry.
What to pay: The two bags cost me $798 pesos, and the best part, I got $115 pesos back from VAT upon my departure from Buenos Aires!
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...
Liz had some souvenirs to buy for people back home and she was fortunate to find what she was looking for on Florida Street. There are plenty of shops selling post cards, tee shirts, shot glasses, hats, key chains and other touristy gifts.
What to buy: Liz bought some shot glasses for her friends Dave, Koky and Billy (who are typical men who collect shot glasses). Rob bought a shot glass for himself as well as a keychain for his girlfriend back home.
What to pay: The shot glasses were equivelent to $3 USD...not bad for a small souvenir.
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.
We did some shopping but not much here on Florida Street as we actually found the stores' prices to be much higher than other places.
There are so many different types of stores here, from small shops selling "Futbol" items, to ladies clothing, shoes, handbags, as well as men's and children's clothing and shoes as well as a few department stores.
During the evening we also saw street vendors selling all sorts of items like scarves, sandals, trinkets, jewlry and some really nice funky leather writsbands, of which Ferni picked up a really nice one for about $20 pesos.
What to buy: I bought my Havianas at a store on Florida, as well as Ferni's leather jacket, my purses, Leo's futbol jersey and Ferni picked up a really nice looking leather bracelet.
Havaianas are a very popular Brazilian flip-flop which comes in all sorts of color combinations. I had been meaning to purchase a pair and when I stumbled upon many stores here in Buenos Aires selling them at a fraction of the cost I decided to pick up a few.
Havaianas are worn by most of the stars in Hollywood and became popular about 3 or 4 years ago. They can be pricey here in the states.
This store had hundreds of different styles and colors to choose from for men, women and children.
What to buy: I purchased a pair of black with a small wedge heel and some decorative flowers for $50 pesos and a pair of gold and purple flat flip-flops for Kristara for $35 pesos.
What to pay: Havaianas in all sorts of colors and syles
If you are in Buenos Aires and you don't go to calle florida, then you are not in Buenos Aires....
Florida is a pedestrian street full of shops and also you can see artists dancing tango, playing music, among other things.
On Florida street you have Galerias Pacifico, that it's a shopping mall and in it you can find a cultural center called Borges.
Si vinieron a buenos Aires y no van a la calle Florida, entonces no vinieron a Buenos Aires...
Florida es una calle peratonal llena de negocios e incluso se puede ver artista bilando el tango, tocando musica, entre otras cosas.
En la calle florida esta Galerias Pacifico que es un shopping Malll que incluye un Centro Cultural llamado Borges.
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.
A few years ago I stopped buying these small trinkets for loved ones back home, but I do usually buy a t-shirt for Leo and a small jewelry box for Kristara as well as a fridge magnet for myself.
I searched high and low looking for the jewelry box and finally found a really nice one at a shop here on Florida Street. I'm not sure the name of the shop, but it was in a small shopping center like street.
I picked up the jewelry box pictured below for about $10 pesos. The box is made of leather with tango dancers and Argentina on the cover.
What to buy: A leather jewelry box for about $10 pesos.
What to pay: Quite reasonable, I paid $10 pesos for the jewelry box.
Although we were told that Florida Street was more expensive because of the tourist, we didn’t find that at all. We went to a shopping mall out of the city and found that it was only a little bit cheaper than at home and only had clothes.
Florida Street is a HUGE street (don’t get lost) which you can follow for days or hours and not get bored. It houses every shop of every description with cheap goods for everyone. If you’re looking for souvenirs, it’s hard to find anything that screams Argentina apart from the leather or soccer gear. If you’re heading to other parts of South America, save the presents for people back home until then. Florida Street is perfect for everyday shopping such as clothes, shoes, watches, sunglasses, perfume and of course, leather. You can find touristy stuff, but everything else is in abundance.
If you get tired, then there are plenty of cafes for every taste.
What to pay: Everything is a lot cheaper than at home - spend up!!