You'll find the city's best antiques shops in San Telmo. Don't miss the antiques fair that takes place all day Sunday at Plaza Dorrego. There are also a number of fine antiques stores along Avenida Alvear and Suipacha in Recoleta, including a collection of boutique shops at Galería Alvear, Av. Alvear 1777. Note that many of the stores listed under "Artists, Art Stores & Galleries," below, also sell antiques. Antiques and art stores along Calle Arroyo and much of the surrounding area (near the Israeli Embassy Monument in Recoleta) participate in Gallery Night. This event is held on the last Friday of every month (though not always in Jan-Feb), and antiques and art stores stay open late and frequently have tea and coffee for patrons. The streets are closed to traffic, creating a comfortable environment for walking and exploring. If you're here as a couple, it can be a romantic shopping experience. Keep in mind that most of the museums in Buenos Aires have high-quality art and replica shops, so you might find interesting gifts there as well.
Buying Antiques in Buenos Aires -- Most antiques stores will come down 10% to 20% from the prices they list if you bargain. It is almost impossible to pay for antiques with credit cards in Buenos Aires; virtually no store will accept them, largely because of Customs and tax issues. However, international checks, once verified, are accepted by almost all San Telmo stores. Cold cash, of course, is never an issue, whether pesos, dollars, or euros (though British pounds are not generally accepted).
Major Shopping Malls & Department Stores
Here are some of the city's best indoor shopping centers. Some, like Galerías Pacífico, are tourist sites in their own right because of their architectural beauty. Even if shopping's not your bag, Galerías Pacífico is not to be missed. The Abasto Shopping Center is a great place to bring the kids, with its Museo de los Niños in the food court. Until recently, something that made the shopping experience here very different from North America and Europe was a lack of department stores. However, Falabella, the Chilean chain, opened up in 2006 in Buenos Aires with a large store on Calle Florida. Still, most shopping centers are a collection of smaller stores and chains, some uniquely Argentine, others South American -- and some that you won't find anywhere else in the world. Most shopping malls are open daily from 10am to 10pm, with exceptions noted.
Shopping Centers & Highlights -- Hours will vary as each store within these centers sets its own, but most will be open weekdays from 10am to 5pm.
The city's finest jewelry stores are located in Recoleta and inside many five-star hotels. You can find bargains on gold along Calle Libertad, near Avenida Corrientes. Many of the small women's boutiques detailed there also carry handmade jewelry produced locally.
With all that beef in its restaurants, Argentina could not be anything but one of the world's best leather centers. If you're looking for high-quality, interestingly designed leather goods, especially women's shoes, accessories, and handbags, few places beat Buenos Aires's selection. Many leather stores will also custom-make jackets and other items for interested customers, so do ask if you see something you like in the wrong size or want to combine features from different pieces. While most shops can do this in a day or two, to avoid disappointment, you should start checking out stores and prices early. If something is complicated to make, it might take more time than usual -- and some stores can take as long as a week.
The Calle Murillo Leather District -- Looking to compare prices and selection in a hurry? Then head to the Calle Murillo leather warehouse district in the Villa Crespo neighborhood. I've listed several places in this section, including the large Murillo 666, one of the street's main stores. Items are often made above the storefront, or in a factory nearby. Don't be afraid to bargain, or ask if custom items can be made if you don't find exactly what you like. The highest density of leather stores is at Murillo between Malabia and Acevedo, but you'll find about 50 stores total, with everything from leather jackets to purses, luggage, furniture, and more. Many of the smaller stores are owned by Orthodox Jews, and so will be closed on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and certain holidays, so keep that in mind when scheduling your shopping time.
Stores selling Argentine wines abound throughout Buenos Aires. Among the best are Grand Cru, Rodríguez Peña 1886 at Avenida Alvear (tel. 11/4816-3975; www.grandcru.com.ar); Tonel Privado, in the Patio Bullrich Shopping Mall at Av. del Libertador 750 (tel. 11/4814-7526; www.tonelprivado.com), with a second location in Galerías Pacífico at Calle Florida 750 (tel. 11/5555-5147), both open daily 10am to 9pm; Winery, which has several branches including one at Av. Corrientes 300 at Avenida 25 de Mayo (tel. 11/4394-2200; www.winery.com.ar), open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm; Vinos Argentinos, Tucumán 565 just off Calle Florida (tel. 11/4312-4841); and Lo De Joaquin Alberdi, Jorge Luis Borges 1772 at Costa Rica, Palermo Viejo (tel. 11/4832-5329; www.lodejoaquinalberdi.com.ar). If you're in a rush and don't mind overspending, you can easily buy good Argentine wine at most hotel bars and restaurants.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.