Last week my boss tipped me off to TWO new Mexico City markets with which I was previously unfamiliar:
- Tianguis Cultural del Chopo, a Saturday-only market dedicated towards all things rock/alternative/punk/ska/goth/weed/hippie
- Centro Artesanal Buenavista, “La Tienda Mas Grande del Pais con 100,000 articulos finos en 24,000 mts2″ (The largest store in the country with 100,000 fine items in 258,000 square feet)
These two mercados are located right next to each other, both fascinating in their own way & definitely worth a couple hours spent on a Saturday afternoon. Also, they are easily accessible via public transit– take the Metro to the Buenavista stop on the gray line B, or the Metrobus up Insurgentes to the Buenavista stop (just a bit north of Reforma).
The “cool” prize definitely goes to El Chopo. Their website (may I interject– well done you, tianguis [street market] with a trendy, informative website!) has a great history in Spanish. In a nutshell, the market’s been around for nearly 29 years and you can find “CDs, DVDs, records, goth clothes, sweatshirts, punk fashion, stickers, artsy stuff, live bands ploaying, emo, metal gear, urban, jamaican style, fotographic exhibitions, band members wandering around, and all that you’ve imagined in only one place!” Additionally, the people watching (which is good in Mexico City to begin with) may rank on the “excellent” scale here. (On that front, my photos pale in comparison to one depicted above from their website, contributed by user “massiel”.) We did not have the priviledge of observing any dachsund-licking during our visit, not even dachsund-licking by flat-haired people. [Editor's note: the Chopo website seems to have taken a dirt nap. Sorry...]
I discovered reading the website tonite that you are *supposed* to get badge to take photos in El Chopo, but we somehow managed to snap a few pictures without incident. Of course, their website also requests that drugs and alcohol not be consumed in the market, and a few sniffs of the air indicated those rules weren’t being followed tooo closely…so perhaps these are all just *suggestions*….
El Chopo pics below followed by Centro Buenavista.
After buying some random purses made out of old records at El Chopo, we moved on to Centro Artesanal Buenavista. I was expecting another massive outdoor market, but this one surprised us by subtly lurking in the goddamn biggest low-ceilinged warehouse I have ever seen. The “What the Hell is Going On Here” prize definitely goes to Buenavista.
First to clarify, this is not a traditional artisan market; rather a freaking-massive store. I still expected it to be bustling with people, the way every other artisan market tends to be around here on a sunny Saturday afternoon. NO. Not even close.
I think we were one of three other couples in the 250,000+ square foot store for almost the whole time we were in there. At least 50% of the overhead flourescent lights were off. If it hadn’t been for the occasional lurking store employee, I would have been convinced that we either had gotten locked in a 70’s department store afterhours, or we had walked into the movie Mannequin. Only the mannequins didn’t look like Kim Cattrall. They looked like this:
and these two terrifying gems: a surprisingly tall hand-less male mannequin wearing what can only be described as a “doo-rag”, and a bald, handless female mannequin who appears to be in ecstacy despite that fact that her wig is lying behind her in a pile that best resembles a long-haired guinea pig.
I was also struck by the liberal use of space in a country where most stores fill every available inch with saleable merchandise. It felt both wasteful and luxurious (?) to see individual plates displayed on massive, astroturfed, Teotihuacan replicas:
and a whole wall allotted for merely this small a number of nightmare-inducing owls:
One thing I was impressed with was how the store tried to teach its customers about Mexican handicrafts, in case they are not familiar with Mexican culture. For instance, maybe there are some people who don’t know about hammocks. I know for me, this carefully, artfully-arranged display really helped to show me what a hammock might be used for:
Also, the store used fun characters like friendly frogs to help visitors understand proper drinking habits in Mexico:
The last thing we learned about was who we would have to talk to if we were caught shoplifting any of these little treasures:
And finally, we perused the housewares section, also full of surprises…
I don’t know that I would include Centro Artesanal Buenavista (open daily from 9 to 6) on your wedding registry per se, but I would definitely add it onto a trip to El Chopo….particularly as the store has free bathrooms that John indicated were “adequate”. As for me, another trip to El Chopo is definitely in my future… After all, you can never have too many fashionista facemasks in a place like Mexico City.