Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shopping Spree, or "Rolex, Rolex, Rolex!"

From 72nd Street Station, just down from the Beacon Hotel, we jumped onto the #3 express train all he way to Chambers Street Station near the Financial District and walked the rest of the way to The Embassy Suites hotel where Steve and Catherine were staying. They had invited us for the huge buffet breakfast that more than stuffed our tummies. Next it was off to Canal Street via Tribeca for some serious bartering...I
Even in the mid-morning the sidewalks of Canal Street are packed with shoppers and "merchants" (if I use the term loosely) eager to trade. Colleen was first off the mark with a green glass Budda that she got for one dollar after some heated bartering. As we moved further into the centre o the action, the atmosphere was quite charged, as the sellers became more aggressive and the antics more entertaining. We crossed to the north side where rows of Haitians with huge suitcases whisper at you. "Rolex, Rolex, Rolex!" says one. "Gucci, Coach, Louis Vittant, purses," speaks another. "Ray Bans, sunglasses," beckons from a third. Then suddenly, just as you approach the wares, they close their suitcases as if in harmony, they have sensed a mystical force, wearing a uniform that might see their knock-off merchandise. If you ask to see a watch, they come from behind, from a pocket or black plastic bag, and only for a fleeting moment. If you get too curious, sometimes the merchandise goes away, sometimes you get a finger pointing inside an alley, or a door opens inside a store. It's all a very different style of shopping for the initiated.
If you know what you are looking for, and don't mind the fact that, in all likelihood, what you bought is a knock-off with a life-span measured in months, not years, then the price paid is minimal. Gucci purse- $35. Ray Ban sunglasses- $9. Rolex watch- $35.
I was looking for a Tissot T-Touch watch. Hard to find, I discovered. After hearing "Rolex, Rolex, Rolex!" one too many time, I said, "Tissot?" Don't have one," a big black guy replies. "Let me make a call." He pulls out his phone, but there's no answer. I carry on down the street to see how Colleen is doing with the RayBan sunglasses. Two for $18 was her best deal. Steve and Catherine also scored some good stuff. Colleen also managed to get a few things. Hmmm. We carried on up the street.
Almost an hour later, and I've not received any positive responses to my Tissot watch request. The closets I got was a head nod and a finger pointing inside a back room. We're walking back and the I am approached by the same guy. He says he's got his man on the phone. "Tell him the name of the watch," he says. I say "Tissot" into his mobile phone but no luck. My new friend, who calls himself "Prince" says he'll keep trying and make some more calls. I think I'd rather not run into Prince again.

From Blogger Pictures

Later, we took the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands. Hurricane Bill was wreaking havoc with the weather and the skies, which made for some pretty interesting visuals and even better photos. How's this one of Liberty herself? It's taken in the mid afternoon in her shadow with my iPhone.

From Blogger Pictures

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