Salvador isn’t a big shopping mecca. Aside from the main markets, which sell Bahian trinkets and souvenirs, jewelry, and handicrafts (Mercado Modelo) as well as authentic Candomblé artifacts and foodstuff (Feira de São Joaquim), the most interesting purchases to be made are concentrated in the Pelourinho and Barra. Aside from many tourist traps, the Pelô has an assortment of interesting boutiques and galleries.
Goya Lopes (Rua Gregório de Mattos 20, Pelourinho, tel. 71/3321-9428, www.goyalopes.com.br, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) is the eponymous boutique of one of Salvador’s most interesting clothing and housewares designers. After studying the history of African textiles, Lopes began making clothes for local musicians. Over time, her designs—sold under the name Didara, which means “good” in Yoruba—have attracted an international following who seek out her bold and colorful, yet refined clothing and housewares inspired by African design motifs.
Another home-grown talent who has made a mark on the national fashion scene is Márcia Ganem (Rua das Laranjeiras 10, tel. 71/3322-2423, www.marciaganem.com.br, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat.), whose contemporary designs for women are mostly made of polyamide fibers recycled from rubber tires—a surprisingly delicate material that has become her trademark. Equally original is her line of jewelry.
For more casual clothes, check out the terrific tees and other casual clothing at Loja Axé (Rua das Laranjeiras 9, tel. 71/3321-7869, www.projetoaxe.org.br), operated by Projeto Axé, the NGO that provides Salvador’s street kids with creative outlets to help them overcome the difficulties they face.
Although CD stores have pretty much been wiped off the face of the city, Cana Brava Records (Rua João de Deus 22, tel. 71/3321-0536, http://www.bahia-online.net/canabravarecords.htm, 9 a.m.–close Mon.–Sat.), run by a knowledgeable American expat, is a great place to listen to and purchase Brazilian music. Among its offerings, Cana Brava specializes in traditional music of the Bahian Recôncavo region.
If you’re looking for typical art, housewares, and handicrafts made by artists from all over the state of Bahia, a great source is the Instituto de Artesanato Visconde de Mauá (27 Rua Gregório de Mattos, tel. 71/3116-6712, www.maua.ba.gov.br, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat.). Although pricy, the quality of the ceramics, woodwork, weaving, and other works is high. There is a second boutique at Porto da Barra (tel. 71/3116-6190, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), overlooking the sea.
Also in Barra is Salvador’s largest centrally located shopping mall. Just off the Praia do Farol, Shopping Barra (Av. Centenario 2992, Barra, tel. 71/3339-8222, www.shoppingbarra.com, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 3–9 p.m. Sun.) offers three gloriously air-conditioned levels featuring Brazilian designer boutiques, a few cafés, food courts, and bookstores, a handicraft market, and a couple of cinemas.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition