Shanghai's Jing’an Villa: The ultimate shopping guide
A much-needed block of calm in the middle of Shanghai, Jing’an Villa is a picturesque nongtang settlement just off the name-brand so-called shoppers' paradise of Nanjing Xi Lu.
Although it might be down the block from glam Plaza 66 and new flagship stores belonging to UNIQLO, Gap and Marks & Spencer, the area has preserved slices of Old Shanghai life alongside burgeoning trendy cafés, indie handicraft stores and art studios run by young hipsters.
We share 10 of our favorite stores.
1. Cute Stuff
This pastel-colored shop mainly stocks environmentally-friendly, China-made gifts and home accessories such as flower vases, photo frames and teaspoons made from organic material.
Prices range from RMB 3 for a tiny wooden card-holder to RMB 300 for a tabletop cabinet.
“There is a growing ecological consciousness in China and we believe Shanghai is at the forefront of this trend,” say owners Ray Mao, 30, and Jenny Sun, 30, who also run a Miao handicraft store in Tianzifang.
168 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄168号, +86 189 6402 4538, cute-stuff.taobao.com, hours: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (daily)
2. Ya Ci Xuan
Two sisters run this store, which sells antique porcelain vases and contemporary porcelain sculptures from their native Jingdezhen, a city famed for its two millennia of porcelain-producing history.
If the large vases won’t fit in your shopping bag, porcelain necklaces and handcrafted teacups are sold on the patio, where you can also linger over a pot of 20-year-old tea that's said to be an instant cure for colds.
166 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄166号, +86 21 6256 4575, hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (daily)
3. Denny House
This shop front is just an old rickety window through which 61-year-old proprietor Xu dispenses traditional Hong Kong-style, sock-strained milk tea (RMB 8) to a steady stream of customers.
Denny can deliver to offices nearby and also sells coffee and other types of tea.
128 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄128号, +86 21 6258 5031 (delivery for orders of five cups and more), hours: 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (daily)
4. Antique shop
Maomorabilia, old suitcases, antique lamps and broken vases -- you can find anything in this cramped 20-year-old shop.
The store mainly acts as a godown for goods accumulated by the somewhat eccentric owner, who acts as a middleman between savvy garbage collectors and antique lovers. He’ll even come to your door to pick up or assess the value of old items.
126 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄126号, +86 130 2017 8078 (Gao Erjiang), hours: flexible
Dark magenta walls and large cushions give this wine bar and restaurant an extra cozy feel.
Couples can enjoy privacy on the mezzanine level while large groups can flop on the sofas downstairs.
The shop’s specialty is French red wine (RMB 100-150 per bottle), but it also offers white wines from Italy, Spain and Australia. Various pastas and steaks are on the menu as well, but steak orders have to be placed two days in advance.
33 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄33号, ＋86 139 1893 3990, hours: 11 a.m.-midnight
6. CM Feiyue
The third outlet of this chain that specializes in so-hip-it-hurts local sneaker brand Feiyue, this shop is Jing’an Villa’s main draw so far.
Prices start at RMB 80 for the classic red and blue striped design to more than RMB 200 for a custom hand-painted pair.
112 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄112号, +86 21 3251 7637, www.fromsh.com, hours: 12:30 p.m.-9 p.m. (daily)
7. Master Meng
His bedroom-cum-workshop at the end of a quiet alley hardly seems like much, but tailor Meng Junhua, 50, is the oft-whispered name among Shanghainese fashionistas, who drop off their bags of Gucci and Armani here after shopping in the swish boutiques on nearby Nanjing Xi Lu.
Prices start at RMB 5 for a simple hemming, and run to RMB 3,000 for a mink coat -- we won’t tell PETA if you don’t.
122 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄122号, +86 21 1218 0016, hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (daily)
8. Steven’s Art Studio
Shanghainese artist Steven Zheng, 25, conducts one-on-one and small group oil painting workshops out of his second floor studio.
Group classes cost RMB 2,500 for 20 classes while individual instruction costs RMB 5,000 per 20 classes.
12 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄12号, +86 21 1218 0016, www.douban.com/host/stevenartstudio, hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (daily)
9. Ru Wa Studio
Popular with young Japanese families and office girls, Ru Wa not only sells brightly colored traditional Chinese toys such as paper kites, bamboo yoyos and rabbit lanterns, but teaches you how to make them as well.
Classes start from RMB 60 and include instruction, all the paint you could want and all-you-can-drink tea.
The classes last for 90 minutes, though patrons are welcome to stay for as long as they like.
81 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄81号, +86 21 6218 5859, +86 139 1864 9945, ru-wa.blogbus.com, hours: noon-9 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
10. Plum Studio
This space is a reincarnation of the now-defunct Plum Gallery in the same complex.
Plum Studio markets itself as an “open space” for local and overseas artists to connect with people and impart their skills.
“Customers can tell us whatever they feel like learning and we can arrange it,” says Taiwanese shopowner and artist Nicole Teng, 34, who also runs concept homeware store Showroom on Tai’an Lu.
Classes are typically made up of six to eight participants and have so far covered painting techniques, knitting and even gardening.
59 Jing’an Villa, 1025 Nanjing Xi Lu 南京西路1025弄59号, +86 21 5213 6565, blog.sina.com.cn/plumshanghai, hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (weekdays), 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (weekends), closed on Mondays