The capital is warming up, and the long and dirty winter may be nearing its end. It’s time to get out of the house and enjoy Beijing’s sweet but short spring.

Beijing is light on impressive scenery, but what it lacks in visual beauty it makes up in history. The old hutong neighborhoods are probably the most famous thing about Beijing. Not only have the narrow alleys witnessed many of China’s historical events, there also house an assortment of creative stores.

Change

As its name suggests, this store is all about “change.” Unlike conventional stores, Change allows customers to pay by barter. It’s been ages since the owner Robin had to actually purchase new inventory.

The store is small but filled with all manner of goods, from makeup to clothing, to accessories and home appliances. There are also lots of tourist souvenirs brought back by customer from abroad: some pieces have traveled from South Africa, Mongolia, the US and the Netherlands.

Robin said the store is intended to help people learn to cherish what they have. Its shoppers believe that exchanging goods can help you to gradually transform your life.

67 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng

Brandnu

Brandnu was opened in 2008 by Xiangzi, who lived in Canada for more than 10 years.

At first the store sold handmade accessories and second-hand clothing. But three years into the business, Xiangzi realized the model wasn’t working. In 2011, Brandnu started to collaborate with Beijing Gongyou Zhijia, a non-profit organization serving migrant workers.

Xiangzi took the charity clothing from the organization and hired local migrant workers to tear up the fabric. Xiangzi then contacted several indie designers and hired them to design creative clothing and handbags with the scraps.

Most of the shop’s products cost 1,000 yuan, and 5 percent of each sale is donated to the city’s migrant workers.

61 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng

Panda Slow Mail

Have you ever wanted to send a letter to your future self Or to receive a letter from a younger you? Panda slow mail can make it happen: kind of.

Located in 798 factory, the city’s most famous art zone, Panda Slow Mail helps you send a letter to the future. Customers can choose the date they want to receive the letter. Imagine, 10 years later you receive a letter from 10 years before. Maybe the letter will surprise you with happiness or make you cringe. Either way, it’s a fun and interesting experience.

Zhong’er Jie, 798 Art Zone, Chaoyang

Panda House

If you have ever been to the famous Nanluogu Xiang, you probably saw this store. As its name suggests, the store only sells panda-shaped goods: from hats, to T-shirts, to rings and bags. Every item either has a panda or is a panda. If you are a panda fan, don’t miss out.

Nanluogu Xiang, Dongcheng

Yen Wang

About Yen Wang

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Yen Wang is an astrology fan with her sun in Libra and moon in Sagittarius. She's super into adventures, new ideas and weird ideas. She hopes to maintain an open and objective outlook on life – even when she's too old to walk.

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