During my status run to Hong Kong, I took a day trip to Shenzhen, a place I have never been before. Once I found my way into the city, I was on a mission to visit some of the city’s electronics malls.
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Shenzhen Is The King Of Electronics
Manufacturers of the world’s largest electronics companies make many of their products and components in Shenzhen. Apple is one of the most prominent from nearby Foxconn but they are not alone. As such, many malls operate in the area that sells anything from electromagnetic tape to drones. I stumbled into a couple of component malls which were wholly uninteresting as a consumer. What I noticed, however, was that unlike the wholesale trade that I expected to find was mostly absent while instead, I found many makers shopping for various knickknacks to complete projects. It seemed to teem with entrepreneurial buzz.
Huaqiangbei Mall is the Goal
While there are many malls that offer a variety of specialty products, the real focus for consumers is Huaqiangbei. There are several stops that refer to Huaqiangbei (whau-chang-bay) but the one that is closest is the Huaqiang Rd stop on Line 1 from the metro. If coming in from Hong Kong at the Lo Wu/Luohu crossing, you can jump on Line 1 from Luohu and ride all the way to Huaqiang Rd without changing lines (though it isn’t clear from the map). There is a large skyscraper jutting upward from the top of the mall that makes it easy to see from a long distance.
Inside the mall, several floors lead to a variety of specialties. Entire floors are dedicated to just phone cases. In my experience, the prices got better the higher that I went into the building and to the vendors down poorly lit hallways. High visibility, branded product shops were less willing to negotiate, but almost all of them would give something if pressed.
One note of caution, don’t buy anything that you aren’t afraid to lose. I came across a couple of great items (listed below) like a handheld Nintendo 8-bit game built into a knock-off Gameboy case. The screen was color, there were tons of games loaded and it ran a simulation perfectly. The devices were everywhere, available in almost any color, with a range of different exterior shells and shapes. However, not all were created equally. Some that I tried would not allow Mario to jump high enough to get past the first hurdle in one I tried. I found plenty that did but as always, buyer beware. For $8, I picked one up I liked and it’s been a great hit at home where I no longer get a chance to play it.
There were some others though while representing great value, were not worth the risk. For example, I came across a knock-off Roomba, similar products in the US range from $300-650 – this one was about $100-200 USD. I wouldn’t have been happy if I returned home with a limited or poorly functioning product. I urge others to be careful of the same.
My Favorite Finds (and Getting Them In the US)
I want to share some of my favorite finds and offer links both to Amazon and Alibaba. The Amazon links tend to price a little higher, but deliver faster and allow for recourse in the event something goes wrong. I have had mixed results getting consumer order issues resolved with Alibaba whereas Amazon has always been easy to resolve in my experience.
Handheld 8-bit Gaming Console
My wife and I love the portability and ease of using the updated Nintendo NES Classic, though inexpensive off-brand alternatives offer more games pre-loaded for less money. That being said, how can you beat 100 Nintendo games in your pocket with a color LCD screen and video out? You can’t. Life changing.
Digital Erasable Writing Pad
My four-year-old daughter, Lucy, is starting to learn how to read and write. Keeping her interested in school work is key to making everyone’s life easier and making it fun for her. These simple erasable pads were a great find, and while I paid less than the Amazon price, the Alibaba price was about as competitive as I found in the market. It’s cheap, easy and helpful.
USB-C Portable Battery with Wireless Charging
I have extolled my love (and need) for quality portable power sources and my desire to be able to charge a laptop using USB-C from my power pack. Mission accomplished. They also had some nifty chargers that had a wireless charging on the top of the unit.
Have you been to Huaqiangbei or other consumer electronic malls in Shenzhen? What was your experience?