By William Wang
Toys may be for kids, but toy manufacturing and selling is clearly within the realm of big business. In Guangzhou, toys have carved out an impressive niche, where entire markets and malls dedicate themselves to selling the toys that haven't been earmarked for export.
The Yide Lu International Toys and Gifts Market and Onelink International Toys and Gifts Wholesale Market are two of the key toy dealers in the area, just west of Haizhu Square.
Teddy bears, toy cars and plastic curiosities fill over 11 floors of shopping mall space. Trade shows and exhibitions also regularly take place on the premises.
Prices may be marked, but be prepared to bargain. As the wholesale markets are geared for bulk sales, the fake Transformer robots and bouncy fake eyeballs are designed to drop in price with quantity. There's plenty of money to be saved, but goods bought as single units won't be much cheaper than those sold elsewhere. That said, much of the goods available for purchase aren't exactly built to last or have the most elegant designs, but there are gems to be found by those willing to seek them out.
The variety of toys and products that occupy these shelves is borderline overwhelming, and if you're after official Lego or Nerf products, your search may be long or unfruitful. This is the land of the knockoff, and many brand-name goods may simply not be available. You can stumble across the odd Monopoly board game or a Barbie doll, but the veracity of such products will have to be determined by the buyer. However, even if you can't find exactly what you're looking for, with multiple floors and buildings to explore, there's no shortage of substitutes.
And of course, there are more than just toys in these toy and gift markets. "Gifts" refers to anything from designer headphones to office furniture. Why limit yourself? The markets are less chaotic than they once were, selling quite a few high quality items among the mass of cheap plastic baubles and trinkets. If you arrive in Guangzhou with a lot of presents to buy, one trip to Yide or Onelink Market may be enough to complete your shopping list. Of the two, Yide Market is somewhat smaller, and may be slightly more inexpensive than Onelink.
Address: 39 Jiefang South Rd
Getting there: From Haizhu Square subway station, walk west 10 minutes.
Yide Lu International Toys and Gifts Market
Address: No.390 Yide Road
Getting there: From Onelink Market, walk west 10 minutes.