Despite huge changes in the price of living in the past two years, people are surviving. I have seen fewer street people, and folks seem less upset than last year. The Abasto mall was stuffed with families shopping. The stores alongCorrientes were full. The sidewalks were full. It was great to see so many people out enjoying their city. I walked for about two hours, shopping and strolling to get back into my big city mode (I LOVE Buenos Aires: have I mentioned that recently?).
Many items that used to be cheaper here now seem to cost more than in the United States. For example, I am shopping for a watch, having lost mine a week before coming to Buenos Aires. The cheapest watch I have seen so far cost about $30 US, with most costing $50-500. The self-winding watch I have been coveting at Sears for $150 seemed high, but a woman in a watch shop here quoted me about $400 for that kind of watch. Wow.
Shoes have gone up slightly in price. Two years ago, most of the shoes cost about $110. Last year, they were $140ish. Today, I paid between $130 and $150something a pair. However, some stores have posted very good prices for paying in dollars (either 4.84 pesos to the dollar officially, or up to 6 pesos, which is almost up to the "alternative" money market price), so it makes sense to bring cash.
Artesanal has a new shop, but it's only about a block away from where it was before: right near the Abasto subte stop. The woman there is friendly and truly awesome about finding shoes for people who are not in the shop. Bring her the outline of a foot, and she has never failed me yet (cross your fingers!) in finding shoes that will fit that person well. The stock is small, but the shoes are well-made and last a long time.
At Neotango, the folks recognized me. I was surprised that they remembered, although between us, Gayle and I probably bought ten pairs of shoes there last year (or more). What nice people! They deal all day with uppity shoppers, and still smile. There was a very rude lady complaining that they had told her the wrong price and needed to speak more clearly (she didn't speak Spanish), and they were very nice to her. Nice salespeople go a long way with me.
Stay tuned for the new shoe repair place. I am told it's much more reasonable in price than last year's place, but I haven't been there yet.
I stopped by Tango Imagin (Tomas de Anchorena 606). The people who run it also make the clothing, so they are very helpful about fabric, colors, etc. Also, if you have time, they can custom-make stuff for you and/or alter the clothing in the store. I had planned to buy something there this year, but none of the halter tops were available in a 3 that day (let's just say that a size 2 looks like a sausage on me), and the skirts, while very beautiful, didn't flatter my shape. I would check here first if you were looking for performance gear: beautiful, flowy things!
Right next door to Tango-Imagen is Tango Ocho. I didn't go there this year, but in the past, I have bought a lot of things here. The attitude amongst the sales staff varies from somewhat friendly to completely disinterested. Unlike all the other stores I've been to in Buenos Aires, the shopgirls have no opinions, no ideas to improve your tango image, and don't want to help. On the other hand, there is one man who works there who is wonderful with fitting shoes.