Spring Cleaning: Flea Market Edition

I’ve been going to flea markets my whole life. It’s probably part of the life of a second-generation immigrant child. My mom would be so proud showcasing her haul to me that she haggled down to the lowest low, all with the thought that they would fit me perfectly.

I still like going to flea markets myself, looking for books, clothes and most recently, vinyls. I live close to Nowkoelln Flowmarkt here in Berlin that runs every other Sunday during the warm season and it’s by far my favourite in the city for it’s trendy and hip and it’s small enough that it’s not too overwhelming, but also big enough to always find something to bring home.

It wasn’t until recently, though, that I was able to sell some stuff myself. I have been trying to declutter for years and I’ve even collected sacks full of clothing that I’ve decided to let go of, not to mention some decor and knick-knacks that I know I’ll never miss.

How to join:

We got in by registering two weeks before our preferred day. Registration starts at 7 AM and we got there at 6:30 AM just to be sure we get in only to be surprised by an already long queue by the registration booth. We got in line and waited. Around 7 AM they started handing out registration forms so everyone can start filling them up to just submit them at your turn. For this part, it’s smart to bring your own pen but also be nice enough to lend yours to the people before and behind you. When it was finally our turn, we were given a number for our stand and we paid 30 € registration fee (plus 12 € will be collected on the day itself). A good two hours since we got there, we were finally done.

What to sell:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Toys, board games
  • DVD’s + Video Games
  • Electronics
  • Books

Two full weeks to go before the big day, we had plenty of time to collect the things we want to sell. Most of them, as I have mentioned, are already in sacks from years ago. But I decided to sort through them again and found some old clothes that I thought I’d rather donate, send home, or maybe even wear again. Then I made my way to my closet and found more stuff. The most challenging part, I guess, is letting go. I have found plenty of dresses that I’ve only worn once but never found the right occasion to wear again. They’re in excellent condition but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sell them at a price that I’d like to think it’s worth because no one would touch them at that price. I just had to accept the fact that they will be gone forever but at least it will make someone very happy not just wearing them but also knowing that they got them for close to nothing (about the same rush I get whenever I get a good deal as a thrifter myself).

I am a huge collector of sunglasses and believe to have had like about 50 pairs of them before I sold half of them at the flea market. I never really got any expensive or branded ones for myself over the years and that’s why it was easier for me to let go of them. My style has also pretty much changed a couple of times in the span of 10 years so most of them I haven’t really worn in a while. The wife had the brilliant idea of hanging them on a string like a party banner above our heads so everyone who comes by can see them.

What I have also found lying around the house are board games that we don’t ever really get to play anymore. These have been a hit with the kids and it was a shame we did not have more to sell. Children tend to point at things in big boxes and that’s how we sold our old bingo set and other games. I was surprised in a really positive way to find that kids still get excited about games that don’t involve staring down at their parent’s smartphones for hours on end.

I also had a box full of English books that I was hoping to sell but I was surprised to find that people are not really interested anymore. I know that when I go to flea markets I tend to look for these boxes and have brought a couple of books home myself but clearly I’m alone in this because people barely even checked that box I laid open for them. For some reason I thought Neukölln was the right place to sell English books but I only ended up being rid of one book.

Overall it was a good experience. It’s normal to feel too optimistic with the money you’re hoping to make before you start because your goal really is to sell everything. We went home still with a big box full of clothes (I probably only sold half of them), some DVDs and video games, and a handful of sunglasses. It’s funny, though, how the day went by so quickly. There were moments where we did not sell anything for a full hour, then at some point we sell items again by the minute. It’s not eventful throughout but it’s fulfilling enough to carry on. Before noon we already got the 42 € fee back and even if business was slow after that, we knew we were in the black.

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