This article was written by Olya Balan.
One of the first (and yet most useful) things I got to know about Wrocław, even before coming to Poland, was the renowned second hand markets organized every Sunday. I’m not a fan of conventional shopping, and after hearing I could basically find whatever I need, (e.g. pots & pans, cutlery, plates, cups, clothes, bikes, and furniture) I took no hesitation in checking out a flea market on my first weekend here.
The market I visited somewhat resembled an ‘open air museum’ and is located in an old factory yard in the outskirts of Wroclaw, near Kromera. The sheer size of the place, as well as the variety of stuff on sale is truly amazing. There are hordes of vintage items and antiques as you’d expect, but you’ll also find hi-tech products for sale too.
So how does it work then? Well, most of the vendors dispose their goods liberally on the ground or on propped up tables, while others simply dump their ‘products’ into assorted cardboard boxes. Many of these containers are like ‘horns of plenty,’ with a host of peculiar, fascinating and charming things inside. Indeed, when you delve in you never quite know what you’ll find hidden at the bottom. Given there's the off chance of picking up a gem for a snip of the price, it’s not unusual to find punters swarming around the various boxes like bees – so be patient to wait for your opportunity. Thankfully on my visit though, persistence paid off, and I walked home satisfied after making some nice purchases.
I should admit the Sunday market offerings vary in quality – some of the items are arty, but there’s fair bit of kitsch in there too. But of course, that’s nothing unusual for this kind of bazaar. In Australia for example, they aptly label such places ‘trash and treasure markets’. The whole point is to seek a piece of beauty amongst all the mediocrity, or to pick up a bit of quality in the midst of all the junk.
During the festive period, the Sunday Market is arguably even more attractive. A lot of second hand ‘dealers’ show off their Christmas decorations, lights, trees, candles and a host of other traditional holiday accessories. So if you fancy searching for some low-priced decorations or gifts, (all in good taste of course) the Sunday Market would be an ideal shopping destination.
In the run up to the skiing season, the Sunday market is also luring bargain hunting winter sports fans. On arrival, keen skiers and snowboarders will find a range of equipment, both second hand and new. If you’re lucky you might find some ice skating boots too (as I did during my visit).
Before you go scouring the Sunday Market in search of some bargains however, you should be prepared to use some basic shopping expressions in Polish. You’ll be lucky if you find a seller who speaks English, so you might have to overcome the odd communication glitch when haggling. Nevertheless, that's where all the fun starts. Dare to ask for half price on any item, and you’ll usually get a discount of some sort. The secret is to look interested in the product, as well as to insist on purchasing it a lower price.
Fancy going bargain hunting then? The flea market in Wrocław is open on Sundays from early morning till 2 PM. To get there, take bus 116 in the direction of Sołtysowice, and get off at Poprzeczna stop. You can check the bus schedule here.
For more photos of the market, as well as a run down of Olya's purchases – check out her blog, Olya's Passions.
Flea Market, Sundays @ Mlyn Sulkowice