Buying second-hand and ‘upcycled’ items is a brilliant way to alleviate the modern guilt of consumerism, and Berlin is an ethical shopper’s paradise. Second-hand shopping is no longer about skint students and charity shops with dubious looking (and smelling) stock. In its current transition from ‘poor but sexy’ to something altogether more sophisticated, Berlin’s creativity and originality are thriving, its streets and markets crammed with individual and affordable must-have items. That these items aren’t brand new makes them unique, affordable and ethical – the perfect combination. Anything you could want or need is waiting for you in Berlin, maybe undera pile of junk or a layer of dust, or perhaps gleaming in an up-market shop window. Whatever the case, on every price tag there’s a bargain to be had, and behind every item a story to be told.
There are so may opportunities for every kind of second-hand shopping that it would be impossible to cover them all, so in this guide are a few of my favourites:
Nowkoelln & Kreuzboerg Flowmärkte (flea markets)
There are numerous flea markets in Berlin, all well worth a visit. These two monthly Sunday markets are particularly enjoyable for their picturesque locations (Nowkoelln along the canal at Maybachufer and Kreuzboerg in a public garden near Mortizplatz), quality of stock, live music and delicious food. The variety of items for sale is wide, including (but by no means limited to) art, music, furniture and clothing. Very much an event for the local community, prices are reasonable and avoid the tourist-driven mark-ups of places like the popular flea market at Mauerpark. Check out www.nowkoelln.de and www.kreuzboerg.de for more.
Jumbo Second Hand (Weinerstraße 63, Kreuzberg)
Jumbo has stock akin to today’s exclusive vintage shops in Brighton and Brick Lane, but prices reminiscent of a time before vintage became too cool to be affordable. A kaleidoscope of clothes, hats, belts and shoes can be found in this little-known gem. It’s particularly good for footwear. I bought a fantastic pair of hardy, leather winter boots that have lasted two seasons with no sign of deterioration for only €30. Recently a friend of mine picked up a stunning pair of leather high heeled boots, which stand out back in London for their unique style and quality, for just €50.
Dircksenstraße Antik-und Trödelmarkt (antique and jumble market: Alexanderplatz railway arches)
This collection of house-clearance furniture, art and bric-a-brac is nothing short of immense.Housed under six massive railway arches, you can find all manner of weird and wonderful objects. Magnificent wardrobes, 70s sofas, Bauhaus kitchen units, obscure paintings, rows of cinema chairs and church pews, stuffed animals, the list goes on… and the price range is similarly varied. This place is the perfect treasure trove for anyone seeking a unique purchase or one-off piece. From Jannowitzbrücke U Bahn, follow the railway track north on Dircksenstraße towards Alexanderplatz. The shop is just on the left past the junction with Schicklerstraße.
Humana (3 Frankfurter Tor, Friedrichshain)
Like a towering department store, Humana spans five industrial-sized floors full of over 30,000 pieces. There are clothes aplenty, along with furniture and every other conceivable household item. Rifling through the jumble will take some time, but the stock is well ordered and arranged. Prices are unbelievably cheap and all the proceeds go towards charity projects in the developing world. There are also 11 other, smaller Humana shops in Berlin.
By Guest Writer, Natalie Holmes www.horseshoenail.org