I had a relatively unscheduled afternoon, so I decided to venture to the Popular Market or "pirated goods crazy bargain shopping center". I first heard about Shopping Oiapoque from a student at my first English teaching gig, and he told me that he thought it was a place where you have to be extra careful. So I came prepared today: I only brought what I needed, my purse was zipped up the whole time, and kept my hand on it as I browsed, making sure not to get too close to other shoppers. Maybe I'm a bit naive, but I really didn't feel like it was that different from walking downtown centro in terms of being wary of pick-pocketers. One thing I've noticed since moving here is that people tend to look pretty good, no matter what their social status. People wear Nikes, the latest soccer shirts, carry nice purses, have their nails done, and so on. After today, I can see how the poor are able to afford such things. It's all about the knock offs. I found it funny that this place has a website, staff to clean the bathrooms and halls, and many of the kiosks take credit cards. It's the contradictions that we are so comfortable living with here: illegal merchandise sold conveniently.
Here are some of the deals I saw:
DVDs 4 for R$7
TONS of videos game, in fact many kiosks had TVs so you could try them out!
"Puma" purses R$20
"Nike" shoes, lowest price was R$30
Knock off Oral B toothbrushes (didn't get the prices on those, just thought it was funny)
Lots of cell phones and computer , but didn't bother checking prices
Snoopy backpacks R$13, and assorted pencil bags four for R$10
These last items were of particular interest to me, because 1) we have 3 kids. 2)back packs at Lojas Americanas (I guess you would say the equivalent of Target here) carries cheap backpacks for R$50 and pencil bags for $R14+. So Oiapoque has some smoking deals on some school supplies.
Overall, it was not as exciting as I hoped it would be, but I was tempted to buy some shoes. My horribly filthy Avias are an embarrassment here in the land of sparkling, nice shoes (have I mentioned that Brazilians have an obsession with nice looking shoes?). Plus, they are starting to fall apart because I've put so many miles on them in 6 months.
10 months ago