Shopping in Cape Town:
Where to Buy What
There’s a lot to discover in Cape Town — but one of my biggest discoveries was its unbeatable value. This is especially true for Canadians: with the strong Canadian dollar, one Canadian loonie will get you 7.6 South African rands. The obvious question is … what to buy?
Handicrafts are popular purchases. Over by the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Craft Market, there are an abundance of shops. African Stones offers discounts on precious stones; and the jewellery shop Barbara Allan offers good deals on lockets and earrings. This location is great for those who are time-crunched or for those who can’t seem to break away from the deluxe V&A waterfront.
For chic and sustainable, it can’t get any better than Long Street. This shopping stretch has a cool New Orleans’ French Quarter vibe to it. Many of the store fronts are adorned with intricate wrought-iron balconies in lace-like patterns.
A new mall called 210 Long Street that celebrates sustainable shopping recently opened in the former rundown Baobab Mall. So if you’re keen on green, this is your place.
Music is of course a big draw in South Africa and you can’t do better than heading straight to the Africa Music Store on Long Street. Everything from Soweto Gospel music to the smooth sounds of South African sensation Zahara Loliwe can be found here. South of the city centre, in the Gardens district, check out Mabu Vinyl, a popular Cape Town music shop that’s been around since 2001. Look for hip hop, soul, techno and tunes from the next up-and-coming South African artists.
Eats are cheap, too. Fork Restaurant on Long Street serves mains from $7 and cappuccinos for $2 in a hip resto helmed by chef Jonathan Japha — who has been lauded in GQ magazine.
Personally, I like Greenmarket Square, the ultimate flea market for handicrafts, where vendors display the latest township art creations. I picked up some handsome toys recycled from pop cans for under $5 and a pair of fabulous hand-woven baskets for under $10 each.
The nice surprise about Greenmarket Square is the colorful patrons and small business owners who enjoy a fun chat. Don’t be surprised if you come across Gregory da Silva, also known as the Egg Man. Tell him I say bonjour when you see him. Here’s a cool clip of him, below.