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You won't get fleeced at the flea market

LIN Yu frowns every time she opens her overflowing wardrobe: The unwanted togs, bling and stuff just keep piling up. What's a girl to do?

The problem for the 22-year-old is that though she's a confirmed clothes horse and a shopaholic, she also has that thrift gene.

As the winds of fashion shift, she doesn't want to throw stuff out. Most things are either new or quite wearable.

They just don't strike her fancy anymore.

A friend suggested a flea market to the senior at Shanghai University of Sports. A first timer, she got hooked right away.

Every weekend, there are probably dozens of flea markets underway in the city ?? they may be even more crowded because of the current financial recession. Some are specialized, some offer soup to nuts.

"As many old books and CDs are very difficult to find in stores, flea markets are a very good opportunity for exchange among fans," says Wang Wenqi, a fan of classical music who often goes to the flea market.

They're all the rage among young people, who are unloading their loot, trading CDs and DVDs, making a bit of money and new friends.

Lin goes to Wuguantang flea market, so called because it is actually inside Wuguantang vegetarian restaurant on Xinhua Road.

Locations vary, they're in restaurants, vacant building floors, bookstores, creative hubs, and outdoors as well.

Lin learned where to go on Douban Website (

"It's really fun," she says. "Most are young people and we like to make friends."

The Wuguantang market is held every third Saturday afternoon of the month. The rental fee is generally 20 yuan (US$3) per table; there are around 30 tables.

Cheap prices are the main attraction.

Lin first went there on the crowded Lunar New Year holiday, taking some shoes, jeans, coats and hats.

"They are still very new and some of them I have never even worn," says Lin, showing her items one by one. "I don't want to throw them out. Maybe somebody else finds it more suitable."

She sold a hat to a young girl her age. "The hat is new. I bought it on the Internet, but never wore it because it was too small," she says.

Lin asked 30 yuan, but the girl got it for 25 yuan. "I sold it to her at that price because she looked really pretty in that hat," says Lin.

The flea market vendors sell new and worn clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, jewelry, household items, crafts, airplane models, handmade postcards and notebooks.

Design major Shu Xiaomiao took her own handmade travel postcards and notebooks to the market.

She is a student at Shanghai University of Engineering Science.

She sells each postcard for 2 yuan and notebook for 3-4 yuan. She earns 70-80 yuan each time she goes to the market.

"The sales at the flea market are profitable, but we get far more than money," says Shu. "Actually, I am selling my dreams. That's more important."

At the Wuguantang flea market, Shu shares the "counter" with a classmate, Li Jie, also a design major. Li sold her handmade leather accessories for cell phones.

An old hand at flea markets, Li took a nice table cloth to make her own spot more appealing. "It's a good chance to share ideas with others. I'm excited to see so many creative things here," she says.

Cheap prices aside, "environmental protection is also a big concept," says Yi An, an organizer of the Wuguantang flea market.

Participants try to promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

"We hope more young people will consider using second-hand goods, that's part of recycling," Yi says. "Don't waste anything that can be used, someone else may need it, and exchange is a good way."

Another popular regular flea market is Charity Flea Market organized by volunteers working with migrant children. Since 2007 they have been volunteer English teachers in Jinhu Primary School for Migrant Children.

The market raises money for the pupils.

"At the same time, it's a good chance to clean out your closets. If you are moving and need to get rid of things, this is a great place to do a yard sale as well," says Guo Jue, from the organization team.

This market is held monthly in Tianshuiyaju restaurant on Nanjing Road E. It was held last month at the 1933 Creative Center in Hongkou District.

Last weekend was the fourth Charity Flea Market since last November.

There were around 50 spots and vendors representing many countries in the expat community, including the United States, Japan and Europe.

Offerings included homemade food and baked goods, books, magazine, clothes, kitchenware, household items, toys, pet items, appliances and artwork.

Space rental fee ranges from 35 to 55 yuan, and part of the proceeds go to the elementary school. All customers are charged a 1-yuan donation.

All spots are rented as soon as the notice goes up on Douban Website.

The first market attracted about 350 customers, including 100 Japanese. Organizers took in about 600 yuan from the donation and rental fee. When they cooperated with 1933 Creative Center, the take was 2,200 yuan, the biggest so far.

People interested in the event can rent a spot and get more information by calling or e-mail to Guo Jue (137-6199-3866,


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