One man’s trash is another man’s treasure is any flea market’s motto. From VHS tapes and biker jackets to china cabinets and pins, you can find anything to your taste and wallet while wandering around here. However, embracing the charm of this chaotic diversity also comes with a risk of becoming lost and confused. So for your shopping raid to turn into a success, here are several tips to follow:
Check the schedule. Unlike shopping malls that are open pretty much 24/7, flea markets have tighter or more unusual working hours. Usually, they are closed on Mondays and open earlier on weekends. Plan your arrival depending on your goal – the evening is a time to scoreg cheaper deals, while in the morning there’s a wider range of goods on offer.
Bring some cash. Your card may well turn into a piece of plastic as elderly merchants, who make up the on-site majority, don’t have (or know how to use) payment terminals. Sure, there’s a chance someone accepts a wire transfer, but you’re much better off with cash on hand.
Don’t be afraid to bargain. Since sellers set the price at their discretion, if you believe that you’re being overcharged or if you have noticed a visible flaw, why not ask for a discount? However don't go overboard with the haggling, either – the sellers, too, deserve a fair price for their troubles.
Make a rough shopping list. When your senses are overwhelmed with all the treasures around, it’s hard not to veer off your initial plan. Try to write down things you’d like to buy so you don't end up with 10 new pins and an unplanned shirt.
Let someone experienced keep you company. It’s always great to venture out together, especially with a friend who can show you secret corners and trusted sellers. Moreover, knowledge of Russian will be to your advantage in these “negotiations.”
Be careful with your belongings. Markets are indeed noisy and crowded points of attraction for people with various intentions. So, for your safety, don’t leave your belongings unattended, and check on them from time to time to keep your experience utterly pleasant.
Now we’re fully packed and ready! One thing left – choose the flea market that you like the most.
The biggest flea market in St. Petersburg, Udelka (as the locals call it) is also listed among the best flea and antique markets by Forbes Russia. Two kilometers long, it’s divided into several sections: clothes, equipment and spare parts, household goods, and miscellaneous. What makes it so special and popular with locals and collectors is an abundance of genuine items from the Soviet era, including the days of World War II. This is where local film studios and theaters come for vintage furniture and props, and young fashionistas – for brand-name second-hand clothes.
Most of the stalls are simply blankets spread on the ground, and that’s how pensioners sell tchotchkes. Although you may find nothing exciting among the wares, having a chat with these vendors is always a chance to plunge into the history of St. Petersburg.
In general, Yunona is a marketplace famous among engineers and IT specialists, where you can find a wide range of goods both modern and from the Soviet era, including household appliances, computer equipment, and software, audio, and video products. Although the spot initially started as a sort of black market, over time it evolved into an open space for fair trade with pavilions.
The flea market itself is located in front of the entrance to the Yunona market. It’s a perfect place to hunt for old stuff from people’s garages and attics as well as more unique items like WWII memorabilia and 19th century porcelain.
This indoor market specializes in second-hand clothing, attracting both fashion-mongers and less well-off people from all over the city looking for deals. Stalls here are stuffed with piles of clothes, especially appreciated by experienced shoppers, as these unsightly heaps can hide fashionable masterpieces of the 60s, international brands, or items from vintage collections. Many go for jeans, American military fatigues, vintage dresses, or down jackets. With prices like 50 or even 5 rubles a piece, you can indulge your desire for that extra sweater that’s almost free and walk away with a full bag of clothes for under 500 rubles.
Another hot spot for those who are looking for cheap vintage is located right in the city center. This market offers an abundance of leather goods, including all kinds of handbags from different eras and countries. Getting a top-brand – although shabby – handbag or a retro reticule here is an easy task. Like the markets listed above, it sells a lot of Soviet items, jewelry in particular – badges, brooches, pins, and rings.