In our previous article (‘Visit Xiaopu Art Village’; linked below) we looked at one part of the Songzhuang Art District – an area so large that it has to be divided up into sections if we’re to cover it properly! In this article we focus on one road with lots of interesting businesses in particular.
Art Factory Road – officially Songzhuang Road (宋庄路) but known to locals simply as Factory Road (工厂路) – is the ideal place to shop in Songzhuang. It has everything, including clothes shops, books stores, art supplies shops, galleries of both traditional Chinese painting and oil painting, and quirkier stores such as one selling root art and another selling dried gourds. On weekends and weekday evenings if the weather is fine vendors without stores also congregate here to sell art and ‘antiques’ displayed on cloths laid out on the side of the road. Buy items sold as ‘antiques’ at your discretion!
Read on for our pick of the stores on this fascinating road! Note that all places claim to be open 7 days a week but in practice, since they are all run by individuals, they may not be! Most places open until 7-8pm in the summer, but close by 5 during the winter.
On the south side (right side if you’re walking from Xusong Lu):
Wisdom Textile Art (智慧布艺）On the right side of the archway you’ll find a lady selling pretty cloth and bamboo items, mainly table wares, at the entrance to a small row of houses. She hand-makes all of the items herself for very reasonable prices!
Miyun Dazhong Organic Mountain Products (密云大忠有机山货）Next door to Wisdom Textile Art. Despite the name, this is pretty much a standard corner shop that sells some fruit and vegetables, but they also sell a wide range of dried gourds in all sizes for all your dried gourd needs! (Did you know that gourds are very auspicious in China due to their resemblance to the lucky number 8? They were widely used in antiquity – for example, for storing medicine and as flotation devices!)
Deng Shan Zhi’s Gallery (邓善之画馆）Down at No. 60 find the gallery / studio of Deng Shan Zhi, a painter of traditional Chinese Shanshui (‘mountain and water’) paintings. He welcomes visitors to go in and have a look around at his beautiful work. Many of the shops and galleries in Songzhuang display work by several different artists, but all the paintings here are done by Deng himself so you know who is getting your money!
Yongsheng Jiahe Classical Furniture (永盛佳合古典家具） As well as traditional Chinese furniture this shop sells a plethora of other interesting items made of wood, including jewellery, combs, paintbrush hangers (which make great jewellery holders!) and small decorative shelves that enable you to corral all those little decorative items together so you can enjoy them!
Ten Yuan Shop（10 元店）At lucky No. 88 this is a claustrophobic’s nightmare – a shop packed to the rafters with clothing and shoes, but dedicated bargain hunters might find some gems here! Even more entertaining are the adorable English signs posted around the shop by the owner! PS. Not everything is 10 yuan!
On the north side: (left side if you’re walking from Xusong Lu):
Zijin Clothing (子衿服饰）This shop has a wide selection of linen and cotton qipao (cheongsam) and other clothing for men and women in traditional styles. Feel free to bargain with the owner (the prices are not what is shown on the tags!).
Dark Steel Here, find contemporary and retro clothing, as well as other obviously Instagram-influenced items such as toiletries, bags and plants.
Zhifeng Tang (芝风堂）At number 15, easily recognisable from the red stamps outside, is a seal cutter (of which there are several on the road so shop around if you’re serious about buying). Choose your carved stone seal from his large collection and then have him engrave your name or whatever you desire on the underside.
Antiques in Europe (A&C 欧洲古董) Feel like you’re on the set of Pride and Prejudice by enjoying a cup of tea or coffee in this charming cafe and shop selling replica European antique furniture.
Yabai Merchant (崖柏客) This unique shop selling root art is at number 25. Owner Zhao Bei Liang selects roots to polish up and carve to highlight their natural beauty. The tradition of carving roots, either to make practical items or art objects, dates back at least 2500 years in China. Yabai is the Chinese name for the tree Thuja sutchuenensis, a type of conifer that grows in Sichuan and is critically endangered. According to Zhao, the wood you’ll find in his shop is only from trees that died of natural causes, but we can’t verify that so buy at your own discretion.
Take either the 808 or 809 from Guomao (known on bus routes by its older name Dabeiyaonan 大北窑南). Get off at Xiaopu Culture Square (Xiaopu Shangye Guangchang 小堡商业广场) on Xusong Road (Xusong Lu 徐宋路). The fare is 1.5 yuan if you have a Yikatong transport card, or 6 yuan if you pay cash and it takes one hour. Not all buses have a conductor so exact change may be needed. From the bus stop walk back the way you came past the square on your left and Factory Road is the first turning on your left.
Take Line 6 to Dongxiayuan and then take a taxi (10 mins) to Xiaopu Culture Square (Xiaopu Shangye Guangchang 小堡商业广场). Walk south back the way you came (with the square on your left) and Factory Road is the first turning on your left.
A taxi from downtown (for example, Sanlitun) will cost around 80 yuan. To avoid an unnecessary toll gate, show your taxi driver the following: 去宋庄小堡村 走京通快速，然后在耿庄出口下高速，谢谢！Ask the driver to put Xiaopu Shangye Guangchang 小堡商业广场 into his GPS. When you get out of the taxi, walk south (with the square on your left) and Factory Road is the first turning on your left.
NOTE: Non-local taxi drivers and some maps may refer to Xiaopu (小堡) as Xiaobao (小堡) since the second character has two pronunciations.
Please note that places tend to come and go quickly, so for an up-to-date list please check back to see this article often.
We suggest you combine your visit to Factory Road with a visit to Xiaopu Village, which is the area on the west side of Xusong Lu (opposite Xiaopu Culture Square). See our article on Xiaopu Village for more information!
Thanks for reading. Feel free to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions. we look forward to seeing you here soon! And be to Follow the Instagram hashtag #宋庄 (‘Songzhuang’) to see more from the area!