Flea market and sustainability movement in Thessaloniki

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While scientists are arguing about emission prevention and who should take responsibility for reducing the amount of ‘plastic soup’ in the ocean, I have met an enthusiastic group of young people who have chosen to act. Sofia and Maikis invited me to visit the Thrift Store, the mecca of second hand goods.

When I opened the doors the first thought that came up to my mind was: ’it will be an ordinary shop of vintage clothes, probably an expensive one as well’. Maybe because of the fleas (a bug) that were sleeping in grandmas’ fur coat since the days of Second World War, would tell some stories therefrom past time events.

Because the corridor leads downstairs I started to follow the music sounds coming from the basement. With each step my eyes came across with more and more things standing on the staircase. I felt like that famous girl with blue dress who was falling into the rabbit hole for hours and hours.

‘Everything you see here is about things that people don’t need.’ Explained to me Sofia.

‘When people don’t need something anymore, they can just leave it here, and they get 10 or 20 percent discount for shopping. Also bankrupt companies and factories can leave things here. Here (she pointed with finger in two washing machines standing in the corner) what we do is to pass clothes through specific processes of cleaning. We make a cleaning process here in the Thrift Store and it is really a ruff process of cleaning. It is not necessary to wash your clothes again because chemicals cannot affect your body, but we suggest anyway to clean it again at home.’

Fleas and stories and memories and small pieces of soul were hiding in the clothes but later on affected by cleaning process perhaps causes a consequence of small prices in the Thrift Store. Furthermore Sofia explained that the area is divided in many sections. Each section has special prices from 10 cents to 4 euros maximum.

‘And in the vintage area here, we have clothes from different eras and also it has a special price of maximum 15 euros, because it is a unique piece. Also there are some clothes that we don’t sell and we just borrow them for theatrical plays. Some costumes are very old, like 40 years old.’

This Thrift Store is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, all profit organisation gets from the marketing covers only municipal taxes and salaries.

‘The main goal is to represent a place where everyone can share.  Also we have a special area where you can take clothes for free. All you need is just pick up the clothes you like and take them home. Moreover, there is also a washing machines available for homeless people or poor families that they can use for free.’

When I asked Sofia when and how this idea started she said that the inspiration came from the web site (chariseto.gr) where you can create a personal profile and make an advertisement about the things you want to get rid of, or make an announcement about what you’re interested in taking. All they want is to maintain the same rules – give things for free without taking any money. The Thrift Store now exists since around 10 years. There are many areas not only for clothes, but also furniture, toys, cd, dvd, books, shoes, dishes, porcelain, jewelry, suitcases and etc. For example study books for kids can be taken free of charge.

‘We receive all kind of materials and place it in its particular section. We don’t collect broken and damaged items though. They have to be ready to be used. Despite that, they receive damaged things, that can be taken apart, or particular pieces are used to repair, or also given for recycling.’

‘We want to take attention in this global issue and the main target group is youth. Young people are more flexible and keen to adopt new ideas quickly. Locals more and more are aware about recycling and giving a new life to used materials. We promote our activity on Facebook and social media about sell-outs for example if you buy 2 pans, one is for free -and in this way people are more interested in recycling and maintain a sustainable lifestyle.’

While we were exploring the shelfs and stands full of things Maikis finally caught us up in one of the corridors of the labyrinth. When we all together settled down on the chairs I was ready to hear more about The Flea Market and future plans.

‘The Flea market started in June 2016 and in March it will be the 3rd market edition. The first flea market went unexpectedly well. Although some details were not working properly the event had gathered many curious local citizens and city guests. We invited all kind of second hand sellers- jewelry, clothes, shoes, books, vinyl’s, vintage and retro things, antiques, collectors and etc. Also for enthusiasts who make jewelry from recycled materials it is our priority to invite them and encourage also youngsters to be friendly inside that particular environment.’ Explained to me Maikis.

‘Because the point of the bazaar is to promote an eco-friendly message, the flea market is focused on a sustainable lifestyle to spotlight the global pollution issues.’ Said Sofia.

The money gained from the market covers only the marketing costs and helps the organization to work along.

 Sofia says that the upcoming flea market will be different ‘This time the event will be oriented on workshops for kids, also it is going to be open air with food, beverages, handcrafts and eco products.’

 If you have any interest to get rid of old magazines or share your talent of making unique piece of art from recycled materials – fill up the form in Thrift Store’s page on Facebook, pay only the participation fee and take part in this movement. The flea marathon begins on March 31st till April 1st. Don’t worry if you miss the first market, because you have to  study in a library or visit your grandparents, the second upcoming market is going to be open on 1st  – 4th of June. For those who hear this for first time the Flea Market will be held in front of YMCA (ΧΑΝΘ) building. More information www.fleamarker.gr

Post Author: Egle Puodziunaite

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