Rua 25 de Março
Though now encompassing a number of streets, it is still referred as Rua 25 de Março. The road winds down the Arab, Middle Eastern, and to a lesser extent, the Chinese district of the city, where it is not uncommon to see a Brazilian of Jewish descent and a Brazilian of Irani or Syrian-Lebanese descent talking to each other quite peacefully in Portuguese. The area is located in the São Bento neighborhood, right outside the São Bento metrô station. It is in easy walking distance from any area in the center of the city.
Find all stores and more information online at 25 de março Já
There are 3 main shopping buildings in this area: The Shopping 25 de março ("25th March Shopping"), the Shopping Oriental ("Oriental Shoppjng") and the most famous Galeria Pagé ("Pagé Gallery") and at the streets you can find a lot of stores with a miscellaneous kind of products: Tenis, Toys, Packaging, Jewelry, Bags, Stationeries, etc... Most of these stores sells only in bulk and low prices, so many stores owners from far districts or other cities come to this place to buy goods for resale. Also end user consumer can buy goods, but at higher prices. Most of stores located in 25 March are owned by Lebanese and Chinese Immigrants. Most Immigrants working there just know how to say few words in Portuguese, like the prices and features of the products.
Though generally illegal, Rua 25 de Março has a host of products, from wristbands to plasma TV's, or Nike's to fake iPods. Items sold here are generally very low priced, and often mock products of the originals. It is a great place to buy small gifts in bulk, such as bracelets, cups, or the like, due to the low price many sellers advertise when a person buys many of one item.
Whereas electronics are heavily priced throughout the country due to tax initiatives, one can find an assortment of electronic goods in 25 de Março for relatively low prices. These include computers, TV's, fake iPod's, calculators, and many other things. Many of the items are never taxed, and are quite illegal, though governmental enforcement is only seen during the peak buying season around Christmas.
Name brand apparel (generally fake), watches, CDs, DVDs and console games (all being illegal copies) are also very common in the area.
The 25th March Shopping and Law Kin Chong
Mr. Law Kin Chong is a Chinese naturalized Brazilian, a business man and owner of 25 March Shopping, and also he is the biggest smuggler in Brazil, arrested by Brazilian Federal Police in 2007, November. Even arrested, he kept command of his business. With expensive and good lawyers, he left the prison in early 2008.
Police Operations in 25th March street
Every year, Federal Police and Brazilian Customs makes operations over 25h March Shoppings, specially the Galeria Page and Shopping 25 de Março. They confiscate smuggled or pirate products and closes the stores who are selling these prodcuts. This year 2011 the last operation took 2 weeks and started in April, 2011. One month after, the stores are opened and working again, and you can find more and cheap pirate and smuggled goods.
Though physical injuries and serious crimes and fatalities are very rare in the area, it is a haven for crooks stealing from unwary shoppers. Apart from many of the goods being stolen to begin with, 25 de Março is not a place to bring your Visa. Pickpockets are numerous, and it would be quite unusual for a person not to attempt to pickpocket a visitor, even if they don't succeed.
A person who shops here also runs the risk of getting caught by the government, though the dangers are quite low unless it is a foreigner bringing illegal goods back into their developed country, such as illegal electronics and software like Microsoft Windows, among other things.
Though most car traffic is now not allowed on the street during busy periods (photo above was taken before the rule was put in place), it is generally not a good idea to attempt to drive in the area. The reasons may be numerous, and an example can be seen in the photo placed on this page.