If you make just one stop for local arts, make it the Mawazo Contemporary Art Centre (tel. 075/483-1551 or 078/478-2770; www.mawazoart.com), which hosts solo and group exhibitions with visual artists working in Tanzania today. Organizers have a definite eye for talent; apparently when Matt Damon visited the gallery, he left with half the stock. Besides several other projects, Mawazo organizes the biannual Makutano Art & Craft Fair (usually in May and Nov-Dec; www.makutanotz.com), and they have recently started publishing a series of books: Black Aroma, the Story of Tanzanian Coffee and Climate Change in Tanzania are their first two titles. Note that, at press time, Mawazo was on the hunt for new premises; call ahead for details.
Dar also has a few places to sift through a wide variety African arts and crafts, with the better shops over on the Msasani Peninsula. The Slipway shopping center is a bit like a miniature version of Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, with at least a dozen worthwhile stores catering to tourists; among these, look out for African Dream, where you can pick up antique Zanzibari beaded slippers, and Yatima, which sells handmade, hand-dyed cottons printed with traditional and modern designs that feature in hotels and safari lodges around the country. If you're fond of those candy-color kikoi fabrics that form an essential part of the Swahili beach experience, take a look at the selection at One Way. There's even an outdoor flea market with all kinds of crafts and curios, including the ubiquitous Tinga Tinga paintings, a few decent restaurants, a jetty for trips to the island of Bongoyo, and a bank with extended hours.
While you're in the neighborhood, you may also want to pop in to Treasures of Africa, 72/73 Chole Rd. (tel. 022/260-2573 or 076/215-7393; email@example.com), if only to check out how retired dhows have been recycled and turned into furniture. They also sell Zanzibari furniture and Swazi candles, homeware, and colorful artworks. Also on the Peninsula, there are a handful of decent shops at the Oyster Bay Shopping Centre, including a very respectable leather goods store called Ngozee (tel. 075/437-8108 or 022/260-1961).
For tanzanite, head for The Tanzanite Dream on Mataka Road, behind the fire station in Upanga (tel. 071/326-2326, 075/467-4893, or 022/215-2100; www.tanzanites.net). They also sell other gemstones and cut gems to produce their own jewelry. You can also buy tanzanite (of dubious quality) from African Art, New Bagamoyo Road (tel. 022/277-3717; www.africaart.co.tz), but I think it's a better bet for traditional African crafts, including baskets, beaded jewelry, and textiles.
Finally, of course, everyone will send you to Mwenge Craft Village, where you can sift through an infinite variety of carvings, Tinga Tinga paintings, and curios in every size, shape, and form. You'll need a keen eye if you want to walk away with something special.
Conscious Shopping -- If you're in any way concerned about the potential environmental impact of your purchases in East Africa, it's worth considering that wood carvings obviously require trees to be felled. You may want to avoid contributing to the destruction of forests by choosing to buy gifts and souvenirs that are less environmentally impactful, such as baskets made from woven straw and grass, recycled products, stone sculptures, and certain kinds of jewelry. Also avoid anything with shells or pieces of coral, and definitely be alert when it comes to anything made from animal products -- some unscrupulous types will even try to sell you ivory.
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.