Poland: An Overview - Part 4 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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The demise of Communism in 1989 and the move to a free-market economy have had a dramatic impact on Poland as a shopping destination. Drab state-owned stores are a thing of the past. The pound, dollar, euro and other currencies don’t go as far today as they once did, but foreign visitors and their Polish counterparts can only be pleased with the opening of trade and vastly improved selection of goods on the market. In major cities like Warsaw and Kraków, Poland doesn’t lag far behind Western Europe and North America for commercial opportunities and you will find branches of many of the global chains here. Even with the end of Communism and inflation, Poland remains considerably cheaper than most Western European destinations. Just remember that the price displayed is the price that is expected to be paid, it is not the done thing to haggle in Polish shops.
Where to shop
Poland’s development of a market economy has produced a proliferation of stores and boutiques, including many imports from Western Europe and North America that can be found in modern department stores, speciality shops and market stalls.
For folk art and other handicrafts, start at branches of Cepelia stores, a national chain of folk art and souvenir shops in large cities. Occasionally, they go by different names, even though locals invariably call them Cepelia. For antiques, the major player is the Desa chain though there are many smaller, independent dealers as well. Poland has a rich and thriving tradition of graphic art and the best places in the country to look for Polish posters are: in Kraków at Galeria Plakatu Kraków ul. Stolarska 8/10; and in Warsaw at Galeria Polskiego Plakatu ul. Piwna 28/30; or Galeria Grafiki i Plakatu ul. Hoza 40 and the Poster Museum at Muzeum Plakatu at Wilanów Palace.
Speciality shopping markets include the unmissable Cloth Hall stalls, loaded with crafts and amber jewellery, in Kraków, whose history is as long as the city’s; Warsaw’s glamorous, boutique-lined ul. Nowy Swiat; and ul. Mariacka in Gdansk’s Main Town for amber jewellery. An interesting open-air market in Warsaw is the Kolo Bazaar, in Wola. In Kraków, the best flea markets are on Sunday mornings in Plac Nowy in Kazimierz and next to Hala Targowa on ul. Grzegórzecka. In Gdansk, the covered market Hala Targowa is at pl. Dominikanski 1.
Bargaining is generally only acceptable at the large open-air markets, though if you ask for a discount at an antique store or art gallery, you may well be granted one
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