Dubai shopping – we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto (de la Renta)
There tend to be moments in your life when it hits you that something has changed. Dubai shopping is famous around the world. So it’s with great excitement that I embark upon my first shopping trip. But this is not shopping as I know shopping in Australia. And today I had one of those ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto’ moments whilst out trying some Dubai shopping.
Let me start by saying this is somewhat of a momentous occasion for me.
After months of being the non-fiscally contributing partner in our relationship, I finally gave into the relentless pressure and continuous digs like “so what did you do today apart from nothing” from my lovely hubby. Those of you who know him will completely understand what I’m talking about… I’m not allowed to use words such as ‘tight’ here… he prefers to be referred to as ‘frugal’ or ‘fiscally responsible’… I’m sure you get my drift.
All joking aside… this lovely man agreed that I could go out and buy some clothes given that I have now finally landed a JOB!
I am quite excited as it’s not often that I get the blessing to spend money.
This is one of those times where I’m very grateful that he likes having a stylish wife almost as much as he likes having a wallet full of bills. So with a heart full of song and a wallet full of credit cards, I head to one of the 5 ginormous malls within a 5km radius.
Dubai shopping – the dreaded Mall carpark
However, big mall does not equal big carpark. We have spent many the afternoon driving around aimlessly looking for a car spot at these malls and many a time just given up.
On this particular day, upon arrival in the car park, I am looking for a spot and despairing a little as most of the ones I see look like they wouldn’t fit a moped let alone a normal sized sedan. I am a little spatially challenged, but I swear that these parks were not going to fit my car.
I am already beginning to feel that familiar sinking feeling of a day out in Dubai beginning to turn when I see a light at the end of the tunnel – a nice man in a blue uniform waving at me. Curious, I drive over to where he is standing and he very nicely helps to guide me into a parking spot that just happens to be right near the entrance. I hop out of the car thanking him profusely and giving him high fives as I happily waltz into the mall.
What I don’t realise, and what no-one told me prior to this, was that these men aren’t just there to help spatially challenged lady drivers get into ridiculously small parking spots. They are actually there to wash cars. This is their livelihood. So I can only imagine what that nice man was thinking as I was high fiving him and ignoring his requests to wash my car.
I won’t print expletives as I’m sure you get the picture.
Dubai shopping is not always best at the mall…
Anyway, I don’t know if it was karma or what, but it was a very disappointing mall shopping trip.
I went into each of the normal high street-type stores that I would normally browse when looking for suitable work attire and found nothing. If I did see something I liked, it was 100% polyester which is not a good idea for me in the heat. One designer shop I went into even had a blouse with a huge sequined red bow on it and I suddenly had flash backs to the reindeer sweater worn by Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones Diary!
The clothes all just seemed a little dull; a little underwhelming.
Not only that, they were quite pricey I thought, although not having done much mall time, I don’t really have much to compare to. I still convert everything from Dirham’s as well, so I was weighing up tops thinking whether I would pay that much for a similar thing back home – perhaps a practice I need to stop.
So, I took a moment out to sit, have a coffee and think of plan B.
When I was back home, I was a huge fan of thrift shopping.
If you shop in the right areas, you can often find designer clothes in near perfect condition for the amount of small change. One of my favourite evening dresses was purchased in a Vinnie’s shop for $7 – a buy which just about gave my lovely hubby a hemorrhage with the excitement of such a great deal!!
Is there such a thing as thrift shops on the Dubai shopping scene?
And I began to reason that surely Dubai, with all its designer shops and wealthy residents, would have a healthy thrift shopping community? Not a crazy thought?
So I Googled, and sure enough, there is such a thing as thrift shopping in Dubai that doesn’t involve visiting a Souk.
I jotted down a couple of options to visit and I briskly headed back down to my car and tried to ignore the scowl from the car washing man as he watched me struggle to back out of the world’s smallest car park.
This time, not surprisingly, he didn’t lift a finger to help…
Still channelling positive and enterprising thoughts I head to the first shop on the list.
It doesn’t take long to realise this is not thrift shopping as I know it.
I pick up a beautiful pair of red heels and do an immediate double-take.
AED3500 for one pair of shoes (which is around $1200AUD).
Okay, so they are Oscar de la Renta. But they are still second hand. And still AED3500!
I set them back on the shelf and walk over to the window for a moment, before walking back to pick them up again. I must double-check that I am not seeing things.
And there it is, mocking me with its little white price tag. AED3500 for second-hand shoes that someone else’s feet had been in.
I am not sure what to do. Should I even be touching these shoes? Should I have given a pay slip on the way in?
We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore…
I walk around the store and looked at a few more things. I am determined that there are bargains to be found. Google did say after all that this was an amazing place to come and shop for cheap designer bargains. Google never lies does it?
Those of you who know me will know that whilst I am not as tigh… ahem… I mean thrifty as my husband, I do struggle with the price of designer gear.
And I certainly struggle with paying thousands for something from a thrift shop.
I head for the exit. I presume I have a look of shock, sadness and confusion on my face. Immediately, I am intercepted by the shop assistant.
She looks at me with a small amount of pity in her eyes and asks if I found anything. “My feet are way too big” I say, a little too loudly. “These shoes are all way too small” and I head back to my little rental car, head held high (sort of).
I then proceed to get in the wrong side of the car. Sigh.
I’m apparently still getting used to sitting on the wrong side of the car to drive.
I frantically search around make it look as though I have lost something very important… I even get out and open the back door and pretend to be looking around for that elusive ‘thing’ in the back.
I’m sure they’re looking out the window having a chuckle at that poor lady with the ‘big’ feet. And just for good measure, as I drive away, I run up the curb as I completely forget that I’m sitting on the other side of the car.
It’s not all bad I guess
The saddest part of the whole thing is that I can’t even break open the sparkling grape bubbles. Given the zero-tolerance drink driving policy here it’s not a wise move.
So I do the next best thing. I head-off to do the kiddie pick-up run and see the beautiful smiles on my kids faces. After all, they don’t care what I’m wearing nor how much I paid for it.
And as for the lovely hubby. Was he disappointed his once stylish wife was still going to be schlepping around in smelly, moth-eaten, stretched out work clothes from ten years ago?
Maybe a bit. But when I mentioned that nothing had gone on the credit card, he couldn’t stop the smile from turning up the corners of his mouth. I can forgive him anything though given that he works in the travel industry… Kansas… here we come!!!
I have since located a couple of my favourite stores. And I did manage to find the bare essentials to get me through the first couple of weeks of working. And it didn’t even dent the card too badly I don’t think.
I’ll keep on the lookout though. I’m sure there’s good thrift shopping somewhere on the Dubai shopping scene – somewhere… maybe…
Keep smiling everyone and remember no-one needs to spend that much to be happy!