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second-hand clothes?

Does anyone have any experience doing any thrift store shopping in Europe? I was thinking it might be fun to bring not much clothing and pick up something with a local flair to it. Also, i'm backpacking and would rather pack as though it isn't going to get too cold but i'm wondering how hard it will be to find something cheap and warm if I can't handle it.

Posted by
9044 posts

Europe is a huge continent with many, many countries and all of them are very different, so naming which countries you will be in would be more helpful for an accurate answer.

Posted by
23 posts

Ok well i'll be going to Spain, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, and Italy in about that order. I was going to bring linen clothes also but was wondering if I couldn't find them cheaper and nicer there, but not if i'd have to wait til I get to Italy to find them.

Posted by
9044 posts

I can only speak for Germany. Lots of 2nd hand stores in larger cities. Lots of flea markets too. Especially towards the end of the day, they do any item for a euro sort of sales. I am pretty sure other countries have 2nd hand stores and flea markets too.

Posted by
2297 posts

Sure, you can find second-hand stores. They are usually smaller, locally owned so not mentioned in your guide book like the big department stores. I picked up a nice 60's style dress for 5 Pounds in a second-hand store in Greenwich (London) a couple of years ago when I stumbled across it. You'd probably have to check out the yellow pages to find them.

In Germany, flea markets are big in the summer. You can go on the city's website and search for "Flohmarkt" and it will give you the dates. Often, they are held once a week or once a month or something like that.

Posted by
3580 posts

England has lots of thrift stores; many are connected to charities. In W. Hampstead where I stay, there are three thrift stores a couple of blocks from where I stay. Bath has a couple that I've seen. Sometimes I travel really light, then pick up an extra shirt at a thrift store for a few pounds.

Posted by
8293 posts

Elijah, in France second-hand clothing stores are usually called Fripperies, so look for that word on the store front.

Posted by
23 posts

Oh good point, anyone know the term for this kind of store for any of the other countries on my list?

Posted by
780 posts

I know in England they usually are called Charity shops, or maybe Appeal shops, i.e. Cancer Appeal shop, MS Appeal, etc. The name usually varies depending on what charity it is for.

There are also a lot of thrift shops called "OxFam" in the UK.

I went to a few in London and got a nice coat for 4 pounds, a few books for 99p each, sunglasses for 2 pounds after I lost mine, and an almost new backpack for 2 pounds for my trip back after I bought too much stuff!

I also dropped off a few things that I ended up not using or wanting on my trip, to lighten my load on the way back. Slippers, a handbag that was too small, etc.

Posted by
2349 posts

Don't forget that you will want to thoroughly wash your second hand clothes before you wear them.

Posted by
1158 posts

I don't know what you call cheap clothes , but there are stores that carry clothes for 10EUR or less.
H&M which you can find now in the US too have good discounts. C&A in Germany and I've been to one in Paris. Also in Paris is Tati.
I personally can't stand second hand clothes.
Also you can try fleemarkets, but I ahve no idea where they are. You can ask locals.

Posted by
576 posts

My fashionista daughters and their friends love finding vintage clothing in thrift stores, so I have included the article, "Top 5 Second Hand Stores in Amsterdam" in their take along itinerary notebooks. This article, http://www.venere.com/blog/amsterdam-second-hand-stores/ gives a great description of the types of merchandise found in each shop. While thrift shops can be great places to find amazing deals on designer clothes, they also carry many pricey, one of a kind items...very much like going on a treasure hunt!

Posted by
8293 posts

The store in Paris with lots of inexpensive stuff is Tati. There are several locations. Google for addresses. Some times you find some high end brand name stuff if you are lucky, for a few euros.

Posted by
209 posts

The Italians in general don't seem to dig the idea of thrift stores. I've seen a few consignment shops (one chain is called Mercatopoli) and there seem to be a few privately owned shops sprinkled through the big cities (Milan, I've read, has some good ones). But overall they don't really get excited about it like some other places do. I was thrilled with the selection in Stockholm last weekend!

If you google the name of the Italian cities you'll be in you can find the day that they are having their antique markets. It's usually something like "3rd Sunday of the month" and it will be in the piazza in the "centro" usually, unless they state otherwise. Those are fun to browse through, but I haven't seen a ton of clothing at the ones I've visited.

Posted by
576 posts

In Florence, Italy, we found a really cool vintage shop on the same street as the Istituto Gould. I'm guessing there's a market for used/vintage stuff just about anywhere in the world. If you look around and ask a few locals, resale shops should be fairly easy to find.

Posted by
780 posts

I love Thrift "Charity" shops in London. Oxfam is one of my favorites, as is the cancer appeal shops. I always buy books and a few shirts there, as well as last time a pair of sunglasses for 2 GBP because I lost mine, and a backpack for 2 GBP as well since I bought too much stuff and needed another bag on the way home.

Posted by
20 posts

I have not recently been to Spain for thrift shopping but thrift or vintage is not as popular in the clothing world there. Second hand in Spanish has a negative connotation too so I think they are more apt to buy new. I understand France and England are fantastic though!

Posted by
12 posts

Elijah - a word of warning. I too love to shop thrift stores. A few years ago I bought a wool sweater from an Oxfam in London. Since it was the end of the season, I packed it away unworn and unwashed with my other woolens for the summer. It was infested with moths and many of our winter items were motheaten when I unpacked them for the next winter. Since I was unaware they were in our home, they also got into our closets and totally ruined my husband's light weight woolen suit. Get those items cleaned.

Posted by
12187 posts

I've been to thrift stores. Like here, you usually have to sort through a lot before you find something nice. If you work at it, you will probably find something you like at a good price.

Posted by
187 posts

I still wear a long plaid skirt that my mom bought for me for about $2 in Scotland. I wear it with my several hundred dollar wool cardigan that she bought with me at a not so thrifty shop!

I love to thrift! The hunt is so much fun.

I'd be curious to know if there is an equivalent to our garage sales!

Posted by
8293 posts

Elizabeth, yes, there is an equivalent to our garage sales. They are "car boot" sales, the boot being what we call the trunk of the car. You won't find them in London, though, but out in the counties, when you are driving about or perhaps staying in a B&B in a small town. People gather on a Saturday or Sunday in a school yard or some such place, park their cars, open the "boot" and display their wares. Also, in towns and probably even in London, churches have what they call "Jumble Sales", but I expect you would have to read the local newspapers to find out about them.