I Love Shopping Inner City Tour

I Love Shopping Inner City Tour

by Thandie Dowery                              Posted: 2010/11/22

A bit of retail therapy in the real Jozi

Its cheap, its cheerful and its your city. Shop in it why don't you?

Venturing out into the Johannesburg CBD is usually synonymous with rolling up your car windows, locking the doors, and concealing your cell phone, handbag, or anything that blings. Adding four hours of shopping, on foot, to the "generally" uncomfortable excursion is sure to illicit a "say what?!" That is exactly what the masterminds behind the 'I Love Shopping - An Inner City Shopping Tour' have in store for you. They expose the splendour that lies within the city deep- a splendour that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Just over the famed Madiba Bridge, past the Bree taxi rank, take a sho't left and a couple roads down, a right, and you'll spot a touristy-looking group with sunglasses and oversized handbags in tow. And trust me they're local, but for these damsels, navigating town is like doing a book full of mazes blindfolded. Where they are standing is a place called Beyers Naude Square. Right across the way is Guildhall - Jozi's oldest pub! But this group isn't in town for a tall brewsky.  They want in on all the hidden shopping gems that lie in the belly of the Joburg beast.

And so we set off with no more distractions - like that darn pub. Although a cold one would be great as the sun is fiercely ablaze, despite it only being 9am. You'll be glad to know that the whole 4 hours isn't on foot though. You get a bietjie break on a Rea Vaya bus at some point, which is a 1st for most, including myself. The ride is also included in the R80 tour fee.

Back to the shopping expedition- we are met by shops that house the finest knock-offs of the latest catwalk trends, while some items carry a more unique stamp on them. Dresses, skinny jeans (jokingly priced at R50 a pair!); handbags and shoes are the recurring gear up for grabs. So whether you want to be on par with today's fashion, but on a budget, or you want your individual style to shine through, the JHB CBD is your go-to location.

There's something for the bohemian - sling bags made from potato sack, colourful sandals and the likes; for the afro-centric femme - a host of traditional items like beaded earrings, skirts made from shweshwe material and wooden bracelets; for the cosmopolitan chica - gladiator heels, jumpsuits, nail polish in a variety of colours (also at a stupefying price-R5 a pop); and even for the nostalgic activist! - which should be read as, but not limited to, Steve Biko and Drum magazine T-shirts.

One part of the tour that would make any girl's heart skip a beat is a particular market in Newtown. Here there is an array of handmade earring, bangles, necklaces, which come beaded, wood-carved or in the form of the most intricately contorted bits of wire, and a host of other textiles.

But the shopping experience is not limited to clothing, despite what might have been suggested in the last few lines. If you have a keen eye for home décor with African flair, you may find some inspiration. Along the way, we encounter items like potjie kos pots, Basotho blankets, drums, hand-carved canes - and all at a less-than-Rosebank-African-market price.

Wide-eyed with our bags full of goodies and smiles on our faces, we head back to ground zero - Beyers Naude Square where the pub lies across the road. We grab a brewsky, coke or whatever tickles each of our fancies, plus a quick Portuguese lunch and chat about the day and our purchases, amongst tidbits about ourselves and our daily lives. That last bit was a common feature during our journey, between the sifting through the charity-store-looking clothes for the show stoppers. In total, I spent about R330 - including the tour fee. I scored a pair of purple skinnies; a knitted short sleeved sweater (for those in between weather Spring days); two sexy white tees; cherry red, royal blue, and yellow (I know!) nail polish; and a Prego roll, side of chips and a cool cider. That's a Saturday morning - and a couple of Rands - well spent.

So if you want in on how to get the most out of your Rands in the Jozi CBD, give a girl called Jo Buitendach a shout. You can book a private tour for you and your chums, or book for yourself and join a bunch of strangers like I did. But going with 10 or more of your chums will land you with even more discount! Remember, though, to stay close to the pack. The JHB concrete jungle is pretty safe, but let's not tempt the hyenas lurking in the shadows, shall we?

The next tours take place on 11 December (09h00-13h00) and 21 December (10h00-14h00).
For more info or to book, contact Past Experiences:
Call the office on 011 678 3905 or Jo Buitendach on 083 701 3046
Or email

Read another experience on one of these inner city shopping tours here.
Tell us about those gems of shops in our city below:

A bit of retail therapy in the real Jozi



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