The Insider’s Guide to Mumbai series is loaded with information to help you visit and explore this expansive and vibrant city like a local. After living as an expat for so many years, I found that to really get to know a city quickly you need to stay outside of the tourist zones and hang out and eat where the locals do. You will never get a fully local experience from just a visit, but this guide series will help you see a bit of the soul that runs deep beneath this eclectic metropolis.
Where to shop (and what to buy) in Mumbai
You could shop in Mumbai for months without hitting all of the great stores here. There are so many places to shop now compared to a decade ago when it took weeks to find a shop selling hangers! After our visit in the fall, I found that there continues to be a few favorites that are a must even on short trips. Obviously there are many many more amazing shops and even more that open on a regular basis, but these tend to be the mainstays for both locals and tourists.
This is always on top of most tourist’s lists and I couldn’t leave it off here as it really is a gem. Chor means theif in Hindi so this is really called “Thieves Market”. Enjoy wondering the lanes through Chor Bazaar seeing lots of bazaar things! The big stop for most people are the shops selling Bollywood posters and memorabilia. Our favorite shops are Mini Market and A-1 Corner both on Mutton Street. Ask around and someone will direct you. Also check out the assortment of lanterns, vintage and antique goods hidden away in the shops. If you have room in your suitcase, this is a great place for an artist who is into upcycling!
FabIndia is a mainstay throughout India now. What started as a company to export handmade artisan goods has turned into a reliable shop with great quality goods ranging from clothes and textiles to homewares, furniture and personal care products. If you are looking for traditional Indian wear that is simple and can be worn throughout India and back home, this is your store. They also carry a wide range of excellent textiles for the bed, living room and dining room. No expat home is without items from this great shop!
The Bombay Store
The Bombay Store is a one stop shop for stocking up on all the handicrafts you might have seen on your travels, but neglected to purchase. Jewellery, paper products, Ganeshas, textiles, carpets, you name it, and it’s most likely at The Bombay Store. Newer additions to their stock include everyday use items like coffee cups, mouse pads, iphone covers with a modern India twist.
With only one shop in Mumbai (Bandra), The Shop is worth the drive from South Mumbai. The mainstay here is hand dyed textiles. We love the children’s clothing (light, flow-y and perfect for Indian weather) and dining room textiles. Check out the children’s books and handmade home wares as well.
The king of block printing in India. Anoki is located in several locations with the biggest store in town near Chowpatty Beach. A great array of block printed materials ranging from clothes to bedspreads to bags. We love the hankerchiefs, toiletry bags and bedspreads. Try your hand at block printing at home with their supply of wooden hand blocks.
Get your pocket book ready for high end shopping. Good Earth is the place to go for high end linens, table ware, local aryvedic soaps/lotions, and great furniture if you want to ship it home. No expat escapes India without a house full of wonderful Good Earth products. Beautiful linens, crockery and gorgeous children’s products ranging from bed linens to blankets to adorable printed clothes.
Bombay Electric has been a go to for my family since it first opened years ago. Their range has expanded greatly through the years with an eclectic mix of handmade items, artsy and modern reproductions, cool kids clothes and a great selection of modern wears fused with Indian tradition.
Mangaldas Fabric Market
If you are interested in fabric, this is the place for you. Near Crawford Market, this warehouse hidden behind shop fronts will leave you breathless. Here you can find bulk fabric of every type you can imagine. Bargain well though, seeing a foreigner sends prices through the roof! If you aren’t interested in bargaining and just want a quick view of fabrics, check out small fabric shops located in the non-touristy neighborhoods. My favorites are Glanz on Khar Danda Road and Thakur, a little shop off Hill Road in Bandra next to Archies. Both have a great selection of sari fabrics, silks, basic cottons and most types of fabric you could dream of!
Bombay Paperie is a gorgeous paper shop. It’s true, hardly anyone writes notes on real paper these days, but that should not stop you from checking out this store where everything is handmade in an old traditional style where trees are not even harmed in the making of their paper. All products are made from recycled materials – long before recycling was the thing to do. Stock up on gorgeous stationary, note cards, paper boxes and of course wrapping paper. The prices are great as well.
Head over to Dhoop in Khar (Bandra area) for cute hand made off the beaten path items for your house, kids and for gifts to take home. Love those cute hand painted flowered cups you have seen at Urban Outfitters and other trendy shops? Well, buy them here at the source for so much cheaper!
There are so many amazing items to buy in Mumbai, that I cannot list them all here. However, if you or your children are into crafting, check out local stationary stores for loads of cheap and eclectic items to use in your crafts. Shiny sticker beads, puffy paint, glitter paint, stickers, buttons, and so much more can be purchased here for cents on the dollar. Our suitcases return home loaded with crafting supplies.
Another staple for us are the stainless steel items. We love the move towards using stainless steel that is happening in the West. If you do as well, check out local home ware shops near vegetable markets for a selection of traditional and more modern tiffin containers. Stock up on stainless steel bowls, plates and cups for a fun child friendly look to your home.
Don’t feel intimidated to check out the small ‘everyday’ local stores. You might be amazed at all that you find!
Comment below to let us know your favorite local’s shopping spots to share with others!
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