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Monday, May 5, 2008

Shopping In Buenos Aires - Part 2

Although I studied Spanish for several years in high school and college, the slight language barrier between myself and the salespeople that I encountered in Buenos Aires gave me more guts to whip out my camera inside a multitude of stores and start snapping away. (The pronunciation of many words in Argentina has an Italian influence and sounds very different from the Spanish that I hear spoken in southern California.) In general, I prefer to photograph store windows from the street at night, when there is less glare from the sun, however, I found that the staff in many of the independent boutiques did not mind or even care if I took pictures inside their stores. It's illegal to take photos inside many stores in the United States, so I was thrilled to be able to shop and take pictures simultaneously in Buenos Aires. At other places, I wasn't so lucky. At two out of the four of the malls that I visited (Alto Palermo and Paseo Alcorta), the security guards did ask me to stop taking pictures very nicely. Perhaps they figured I was a tourist, so I didn't feel so bad. After two days of shopping, I realized that not surprisingly, most of the store windows at the mall stores were the same, for example, Rapsodia featured a purple turban-like headband in a few of its store windows and Ayres repeatedly featured colorful hats in purple, red, and orange. Here are some more photos of my favorite merchandising displays.

Maria Allô was by far my favorite boutique in all of Buenos Aires. The window display with the tall ladder grabbed my attention when walking by. Upon entering, I admired the Victorian-inspired wall with mirrors, vintage photos, and high ceilings. The cash wrap area was set up on a beautiful piano in one of the most creative uses of retail space that I've ever seen. To top it off, the merchandise was exquisite, cutting edge, and one-of-a-kind. Sex and the City was being shown via a digital projector. If I hadn't known better, this could have easily been a boutique in New York City. As I browsed, I admired a sultry skin-baring dress which had a low cut back and bustier-like bodice with a full skirt.
Many of the stores in Buenos Aires keep very little merchandise on the racks, so I often had to ask for other colors or sizes if I was interested. I noticed that the sales staff were often friendly and greet customers with a "que tal" ("how's it going") or "hola" ("hi"). At many of the stores, the sales girls suggested other items for my friends and I to inspect once we inquired about certain items, and they were generally helpful and friendly, although very few of them spoke English.

I've got many more Buenos Aires shopping photos and will continue to post them this week.
* Also, on a somewhat unrelated note, I saw Project Runway alum Austin Scarlett at the MALBA museum in Buenos Aires. He walked past us and into the cafe as we picked up our belongings from the check-in desk, but I didn't get the chance to take a picture. I'm wondering if he was there to get inspiration for some new designs?
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