Treasure-hunters and bargain-lovers swarm the Czech Republic's biggest flea market

31-10-2006

Many towns in the Czech Republic have a bazar, or a market specializing in cheap clothing and counterfeited western brands. What's less common are flea markets - places where ordinary people can try to turn their old junk into gold.

It's a sunny Saturday afternoon and I'm standing in the middle of the flea market in Vysocany, Prague. To my right a man is selling new socks, behind me it's used baby carriages, and straight ahead they're selling old crockery. All this in a 50 thousand square meter field in an old industrial park at the edge of Prague.

"I'm Vaclav. This is my hobby. I don't just sell, I also buy, I collect, I exchange. For example, I've collected over 10,000 pins and buttons. And here's an old photo I'm selling - a portrait of football players from the Sparta Prague team from the year 1962, with their signatures. Half of them are dead now. Kramerius, Vesely, Kad'a, Urban, Masek. They used to be great Czech footballers."

"My name is Ernie Vanik. I made these two knives. Yes, I was a knife maker in Canada. This is stainless steel, called 440-C, which is used for skinning the bears and so on. It goes for about 1500 crowns, in Canada I used to sell it for 150 to 300 500 dollars but it's a different market here."

What's the best way to, like, work the flea market as best as possible?

"What I would suggest to foreigners as well - not speak English. Find some Czech friend who will translate it to you because once you open you open your mouth and say anything in English they take advantage of it."

Jenny from San Francisco has found a novel way of bargaining down sellers:

"I found this doll and she's falling apart, but actually she's my bargaining tool now. I just pretend like doll is talking when I ask how much things cost...Well, my boyfriend he speaks Czech, and I'm like, tell me how to say this, and I then he'll tell me really fast and then I pretend in Czech what the doll is saying and they're charmed and they appreciate it."

Piles of unsorted clothes, bottles of liquor, new tires, old car engines, knockoff perfume, a bust of Adolf Hitler, snowboards, ski boots, face cream, keychains, baby clothes, cassettes for just five crowns, marzipan shaped like an ear of corn....it's all here for the finding you just have to look.

"My name is Marta Marxova, I'm on maternity leave. I really love antiquities. Once I bought really, well, cheap china but it should be really expensive but the guy didn't know what he is selling exactly. If I was going downtown I would sell it for twenty thousand but I got it two and a half."

The bargaining begins every Saturday and Sunday at 6 am at the Vysocany flea market. It's located near the Kolbenova metro station in Prague. Entrance is 10 crowns.

31-10-2006

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