Paulistas brag -- correctly -- that if you can't buy it in São Paulo, you can't buy it in Brazil. São Paulo has it all, from international boutiques to local crafts markets.
In terms of shopping areas, Jardins is known for its high-end fashion boutiques. The main shopping street is the Rua Oscar Freire and the parallel Alameda Lorena, and their cross streets the Rua Augusta and parallel Rua Haddock Lobo. This area is chic enough to have its own website -- www.ruaoscarfreire.com.br -- and comes packed with national and international brands, expensive clothing and jewelry, gourmet foods, and luxurious gift shops.
In Centro (downtown São Paulo), Rua 25 de Março is the place where Paulistas rich and poor browse the market stalls and small shops for inexpensive items such as belts, buttons, small toys, gadgets, towels, textiles, and socks. Inexpensive lingerie is a specialty. Keep an eye on your purse, though, as the streets are chaotic with vendors and stalls vying for space, and throngs of people making their way through.
Then there are the malls, which in São Paulo have been elevated to a whole other shopping experience: elegant, upscale, and refined. Sophisticated brands, boutiques, and fine dining can be found in a number of malls; the best-known ones are Shopping Morumbi (www.morumbishopping.com.br), Shopping Iguatemi (www.iguatemisaopaulo.com.br), and Shopping Pátio Higienópolis (www.patiohigienopolis.com.br), located in upscale neighborhoods close to the city center, and the Shopping Pátio Paulista (www.shoppingpaulista.com.br) on the Avenida Paulista. And then there's Daslu, the one-stop ultimate luxury shopping spot.
Hours -- Most stores are open from 9am to 6pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday. Malls are open from 10am to 10pm, Monday through Saturday.
Money -- Most stores will accept credit cards, though you can often get a discount if you pay cash. Traveler's checks are not normally accepted.
The Jardins neighborhood is the place to find excellent Brazilian labels, including Guaraná Brasil, Al. Lorena 1599 (tel. 011/3061-0182); Maria Bonita, Rua Oscar Freire 705 (tel. 011/3063-3609); and Forum, Rua Oscar Freire 916 (tel. 011/3085-6269). For the latest beach styles check out Rosa Chá, Rua Oscar Freire 977 (tel. 011/3081-2793).
For information on the city's galleries, pick up a copy of the Mapa das Artes São Paulo at the tourist office or check www.mapadasartes.com.br.
The city's mega-bookstores, ironically enough, are the best place to find a wide variety of Brazilian music. Livraria Cultura (www.livrariacultura.com.br) has an extensive collection of CDs in its two São Paulo megastores: one in the Conjunto Nacional (tel. 011/3170-4033), the other in the Villa Daslu mall (tel. 011/3170-4058). The FNAC flagship store (Av. Paulista 901; tel. 011/2123-2000; www.fnac.com.br) offers a whole floor of Brazilian and international CDs. Finally, in the Pátio Paulista mall on the Avenida Paulista is the Saraiva Megastore (Av. 13 de Maio 1947; tel. 011/3171-3050; www.livrariasaraiva.com.br).