For the more ordinary, yet attractive, Mexican handicrafts, head any day except Sunday (when most shops are closed) to the Mercado Municipal at the north end of the Avenida Insurgentes bridge. Here, most shops begin with prices two to three times higher than the going rate. You should counter with a correspondingly low offer.
If you don’t get the price you want, always be prepared to find another seller. If your offer is fair, the shopkeeper will often give in as you begin to walk away. Theatrics, incidentally, are less than useful in bargaining, which should merely be a straightforward discussion of the merits, demerits, and price of the article in question.
The Mercado Municipal is a two-story warren of dozens upon dozens of shops filled with jewelry, leather, papier-mâché, T-shirts, and everything in between. The congestion can make the place hot; after a while, take a break at a cool river-view seat at one of the fondas (permanent food stalls) on the second floor.
One of the most unusual Mercado Municipal stalls is Cabaña del Tío Tom (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), whose menagerie of colorful papier-mâché parrots are priced a peg or two cheaper than at the tonier downtown stores.
It’s time to leave when you’re too tired to distinguish silver from tin and Tonalá from Tlaquepaque. Head downstream to the Pueblo Viejo complex on Calle Augustín Rodríguez between Juárez and Morelos, near the Avenida I. Vallarta lower bridge. This mall, with individual stores rather than stalls, is less crowded but generally pricier than the Mercado Municipal. Some shopkeepers will turn their noses up if you try to bargain. If they persist, take your business elsewhere.
If, on the other hand, you’re in the market for huaraches, cross the Avenida Vallarta (downstream river bridge) and continue to jewel-of-a-store Huarachería Fabiola, near the northeast corner of Vallarta and Aquiles Serdán (tel. 322/222-9154, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily). Inside, find festoons of every kind of huarache seemingly conceivable, in sizes for everyone from giants to leprechauns and styles from the latest chic to rubber-tire-soled models.