grand moof tarkin (moof) wrote,
grand moof tarkin

Thrifting in Amsterdam and Berlin

I spent a lot of time going around to various thrift shops in A'dam and Berlin; here's what I found out. But first...

European sizing. Oh god, it's fucking awful. Some clothes are nice and have a listing of D/NL/IT/FR/UK/USA sizes; many do not. Some don't have tags at all. It's worse for women's clothing than for men's, but still pretty uniformly awful. I have no idea if the euro sizes have undergone the same inflationary measures that US sizes have, where 16 from 1970 is 10 or 12 now. Some tips for dealing with sizes and labels:

* get or bring a tailor's tape measure (in german: Schneider-Maßband); several of the Euroland (continental equivalent of dollar stores) or discount stores have them, but I wasn't able to find a retractable one anywhere.
* Bookmark/PDF/whatever a good conversion guide; I found this one to be the most helpful.
* baumwolle = cotton. Most of the other textiles are either easily guessable or almost the same as in English.

There aren't all that many out-and-out charity shops (e.g. Oxfam, Goodwill) that I saw anywhere; most of the businesses were commercial. The Oxfam stores in Berlin were rubbish. In both A'dam and Berlin, "clothes by the kilo" were much more common, had better selections, etc. Some of the flea markets/other open air markets had some decent stuff for really really cheap, but results were mixed at best.

* Waterlooplein open-air market had all sorts of interesting stuff, and is open during the week!
* Albert Cuypmarket had a bunch of cheap stuff, but it looked mostly like the same crap you get from China as anywhere else in the world.
* IJ-Hallen is a once or twice a month huge flea market type thing; it wasn't open when I was there, though.
* The "Episode" chain was mostly crap, IME. Overpriced, small, etc.
* Kiloshop was a very good 'clothes by the kilo' chain; the one near Waterlooplein was good, the one down by the Pijp was OK. But....
* If you're willing to go somewhat afield, there's a Kiloshop outlet by the Electric Tram Museum that's even cheaper than the rest and had a good selection. And furthermore, it's right by...
* Mevius, which was a giant thrift shop of... stuff. All sorts of random shit which changes a lot. When I was there: a lot of clothes, a bunch of housewares, random liquors (??), a gigantic box of leather pants for EUR5 each (!!), a bin full of booty shorts (!?), a huge rack of crappy tourist souvenir T-shirts for EUR5 each. It was cool to wander around in, if nothing else.
* And if you're going to the previous two, you may as well also go to the Butcher's Tears brewery nearby; great, reasonably priced beer, and a nice view of the tram yard. (You do have to go back and around, past the museum, and down Karperweg to get there, though - even though you can see it from the Kiloshop, you cahnt get theiya from heiya.)

* The Oxfam stores are crap, alas. Tiny and overpriced. The few items they had seemed nice enough, but also quite pedestrian.
* The Humana shops are generally pretty good; they seem to be roughly equivalent to Goodwill, in both the good and bad aspects. (I've seen some criticism that they pay their leaders too much, don't give back as much as they should, etc - almost exactly the same things as I've heard about Goodwill. Caveat lector.) The one at Frankfurter Tor is particularly good (and near Friedrichshain, an all too cool area), as is the one by Alexanderplatz. Some stores are tiny and meh, though.
* Picknweight seems to be the dominant per-kilo chain in Berlin, although I think they tend to be somewhat overpriced. Alexanderplatz has a cluster of three shops all pretty close to each other which are decent. The best one is south of Merhingdamm off of Bergmannstr.; not only is the regular per-kilo part large and pretty good, they also have fixed-price and bargain-basement sections in the back which are generally a *lot* cheaper than their regular inventory.
* The RAW Flohmarkt in Friedrichshain on Sundays is particularly good; not only is it just a cool area to wander around, but it's a lot of people selling their own stuff as opposed to a standard retinue of professional sellers. Good idea to brush up on your German if you're going to go there, though.

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