Shenzhen, China, is considered today to be the Mecca of everything electronics. However, other cities in China also boast lively electronic components shopping. In Shanghai, the financial capital of the People’s Republic, lies the SEG Electronics Market
Located at 668 Beijing East Road, near the Bund and its skyscrapers; the market doesn’t seem to be anything grand. A set of escalators later and the market opens to a badly lit underground containing lots of tiny shop fronts.
Most shops appear to be specialized in something: solder, tools, integrated circuits, power supplies; etc. etc. my advice is to walk around the entire market, which spans a few floors, before you start buying anything.
The interesting shops in my opinion are the IC stores. They usually have a front where they display a couple of random or popular ICs. If you “speak” with the store clerk, or more like, write on a piece of paper the reference of the IC you want, he will come up with a price. They know each other and if they don’t have the IC you are looking for they will go to a neighboring shop to get it for you.
This place isn’t for tourists: forget about trying to haggle too much. These shops are not that interested in selling you a few components to begin with. Cutting off one chip off a reel is troublesome. That being said, I could get a few DS3231SN real time clocks for about US$2 when they currently sell at $9.58 on Mouser.com / $9.61 on Digikey. The savings are real!
I found that solder is also a very good bargain in this market. As lead is heavy, it’s generally quite costly to ship solder from China. It would be about $20 for 500g of tin/lead solder from Aliexpress or eBay. Expect to pay not even a third of this price in the market.
If you happen to drop by Shanghai, go and have a look at the market: it’s an interesting experience on its own and you might save a few dollars on your next project!