Best Places to shop in Arusha

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Aug 14th, 2002, 06:56 AM
  #1
Greg
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Best Places to shop in Arusha

Can anyone give me suggestions for the best places to shop in Arusha, Tanzania?
 
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Aug 14th, 2002, 07:41 AM
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Dick
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Greg, I can speak of only one place in Arusha as that is the only place we visited when there in June of this year. We stopped at the Culture Heritage Center just outside of town on our way to/fro Serengeti. Based on prices I saw in lodges those in Culture Heritage Center were very good. One does need to "bargain" as it is expected. And, I found out when a clerk agreed even to the wrong price the owner/manager made good on the offer. We did stop at a roadside shop on the way back from Ngorongora and I would say the prices were comparable with those in the Heritage Center. At least with the two way travel of our trip it turned out we had an idea of prices at the Center compared to lodges, etc. And, then asked our guide to stop at the Center on the return trip to Arusha. Like I mentioned earlier, I have knowledge of only the one place in Arusha. Who knows maybe we were on the high end of things for the area. But even then for the items we purchased I think we still got value based on what I might have paid in US. Also, may depend on what items you are seeking. Tanzanite was selling for 2 or more times at lodges as at the Center.

Have a great time. Dick
 
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Aug 14th, 2002, 09:00 AM
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Greg
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Thanks a lot Dick. My wife is definitely interested in picking up some Tanzanite, so we will keep that in mind. Did they have a good selection of carvings and masks? Also, did you ship anything home from the Cultural Center, or did you bring it home on the plane?
FYI, we are heading out Sept 15, so it's getting pretty close now.
 
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Aug 14th, 2002, 10:31 AM
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Dick
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Greg, As to tanzanite I might suggest boning up a bit before heading to Tanzania. I really didn't know much about such (as I didn't think we are interested--but I got surprised. And, for a 30th wedding anniversary trip--why not.). Place had three grades and also stones/gems with imperfections. I/we also relied on couple others in our group as to what we thought was reasonable. Thus, if you have contact with a jeweler or experience you might be more comfortable than I was. I thought the place had great selection of masks and carvings.Largest piece we bought was about 18 inches by 6 inches. Carried it with us (even on plane). Our daughter purchased a giraffe mask which we also carried. Recall seeing several sizes of lots of different masks and other carvings. At least for the Culture Center (and I think I mentioned this in posting back in July --Back from Tanzania) if one used credit card they tacked an extra 5 percent. We paid in cash--both Tanzania and US accepted. As an aside, we did purchase items during optional stop at Massai village. Bargaining is okay. At least there we saw items being made. Dick
 
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Jul 13th, 2003, 08:32 AM
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Try shopping 'the Craft Shop' in Arusha. It is near a Bureau De Change. We found this store to have good products with resonable prices and the staff does not bother you when you are browsing around. We definitely enjoyed shopping at 'the Craft Shop'.
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Jul 13th, 2003, 01:50 PM
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sandi
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Unlike in Kenya where there are souvenir shops/stands throughout the country, not so in Tanzania and the Cultural Heritage Center is where most people stop.

Having earlier in our trip and on previous trips shopped in Kenya, can say that the prices at the Cultural Heritage Center are competitive, but it's not quite the same kind of bargaining that you can do at the roadside shops in Kenya. But the prices at CHC are definitely better than at the Lodges.

As far as the Tanzanite - you've got to do your homework re this stone. The qualities vary and it's almost like "buying a pig in a poke" - "buyer beware", if buying at the source. It's not quite like going into a reputable jeweler wherever your home is. Amazingly the price of this stone has risen tremendously, as American's happen to be the primary purchasers, so one has to wonder. Besides reading up on this stone which we did one "free" morning at our lodge and after seeing what was available, decided to wait till we returned home and buy (or not) at that time - we decided not to - especially after learning how they are mined, how many people are killed in the process and whose money (it is rumored) is backing these stones - OBL.



It's a strange world we live in these days and everyone/thing is "seperated by six-degrees"

 
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Jul 15th, 2003, 07:33 AM
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nkh
 
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We stopped at the cultural heritage center also - I wouldnt worry about selection of carvings and masks....the main problem will be looking through the hundreds of items to decide on which of them you want (some very nice carvings are available)!.

A note on Tanzanite - the CHC owner knows a lot and will explain lots of information about Tanzanite to you whether or not you are interested in buying if he is there and the center isnt too busy. We did some research before departure, mainly from curiosity, and found that the "bare bones" of what he said meshed very well with what we had learned. Of course, he gave more detail than we had picked up! We made it clear to the owner that we were not buying at the time we asked for information as we were coming back later and would decide whether or not to buy then - he seemed happy to provide the information anyway. (We actually didnt buy on the return journey either, but another lady in our group did).

One thing to check on is that apparently if you buy unset Tanzanite you dont pay the duty (or import tax of some sort) that you pay on finished jewelery. This was info provided by the CHC owner - who sells both unset cut stones and finished pieces.

Prices seemed fair at the Center, certainly better than the lodges and similar to other roadside shops. The selection for most things was also very good. If you buy a large carving they can ship it - but shipping can be expensive so ask before you buy.
Bargaining wasnt as direct/intense as other shops we visited, but some bargaining was definitely expected.

I would agree with Dick that the "outward" stop was very useful as a fact-finding mission. Having some idea of what was available in Arusha at what prices helped with later bargaining and also helped cut down on the number of things to carry around with us.
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Jul 15th, 2003, 10:07 AM
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I can verify that if you buy the unset stones rather than something mounted in a piece of jewelry, you will pay no duty on returning to the US.

We also bought several carvings and a mask and had them shipped home. There is a DHL office on site at the heritage center. The mask (90+ years old) was broken in transit, but in a way that we could repair it, so we chose not to go through the hassle of trying to get a replacement.

Enjoy!!
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