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Cary, North Carolina
July 29, 2008
From journal An Africa Neophyte's Impressions of Johannesburg
February 2, 2005
If you only have one day scheduled for shopping in Jo'burg and you value variety and quality over price, then drop by Sandton City. It's not as exclusive as before, but it does house most of the amenities and more. You may need to be safety-conscious, though—don't walk around with armloads of Armani and Prada bags; rather, dump them in the boot (trunk) as they accumulate. And accumulate they will. Don't feel obliged to pay the guy who 'helps' you park—technically you'd be paying twice as much for parking in a secure area.
Sandton City has the standard high-priced brands names we ‘all’ recognize, from stand-alone Diesel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton shops to national favourites. Even with a good exchange rate, don’t be expecting eye-poppingly low prices—LV is expensive wherever you go on this planet. However, I can recommend a few local designers and stores that would give brand names a run for their money. Looking for a ball gown, going to a formal wedding, or need something uptight and formal? Try Nicci, Hilton Weiner Classics (my fave), Jo Borkett, Queen’s Park, Donna Claire (for the larger ladies). Matching shoes can be found at Spitz and Preview Shoes (most people wait until these stores have sales). There are department stores like Stuttafords that carry a range of brands (Oaktree being a dependable one). The great thing about malls is the variety, from price to quality, so don’t be shy—browse!
Casual to smart-casual duds are easy enough to find, but may I suggest Woolworths (South African Marks & Spencer, but featuring ZAR designers), Naartjie Clothing (local brand that caters very well to all age groups—comfy, fun, vibrant colours), Hilton Weiner Urban (relaxed, trendy, preppy), Aca Joe (preppy, trendy), Big Blue (jumble of local designers—you’re bound to find something if you look), or Jenni Button (can get something posh personally designed for you)? Need skiing, hiking, or safari gear? Then Cape Union Mart has it all!
Grabbing a bite is no problemo—there's a food court! Old favourites include a chickpea falafel at Anat Falafel and Schwarma or a Burger King-style burger at Steers. There’s a lot to choose from, so it’s a good idea to have something in mind before spending a half-hour frowning at the oh-so-many options.
The mall can also act as a great… ‘babysitter’, if you may; there’s a cinema, open food court, and enough teen fashion stores to keep your kids preoccupied for a few hours. And if hubby comes along, he can also get lost in the gadget and clothing stores for a while. Not quite up for clothing shopping yourself? Well, there’s a myriad of furniture/home improvement stores and a whole ground level dedicated to it!
From journal Jo'burg - a Lady with a Rep
July 8, 2001
Be very, very careful in the parking lots, although there is security and they are heavily patrolled by armed men; rapes and murders do happen.
We bought safari clothing, underwear, books, recorded music, food and other items. The best buys for us were high quality leather bags.
Prices are so good when you consider the bargain air fares that you can get to take you to South Africa, you might well be able to combine a vacation with a major purchase such as a diamond ring and come out even. Gold jewelry is sold mainly by weight with less consideration given to artistry and workmanship. Designer clothing is sold at very good prices. The VAT (value added tax) you pay is refundable when you leave the country if you follow all the rules and keep all your paperwork in order.
The numerous restaurants and food outlets include a great variety of quality places such as real bakeries that most US shopping centers don't have. I purchased enough cookies and biscuits that we didn't have to take the time to go to the hotel restaurants for breakfast (although they were excellent, we preferred the extra sleep.)
Prices were excellent for us. All credit cards other than Discover accepted. Numerous banks with ATM machines--each with an armed guard on duty. Even a hardware store for the things you might have forgotten. A plunger? A roll of duct tape?
From journal Tears for South Africa: Best and Worst of Time