Moscow’s flea markets – Klondike for treasure-hunters

Although Moscow is one of the world’s most expensive cities, there are still plenty of places where you have a chance to unearth a hidden gem at a rock-bottom price.

Levsha flea market is a weekend fair located just outside Moscow, to the north-west, in the town of Khimki. In the whole capital, there is hardly a better place to hawk your wares, clear out old stuff or get a great bargain.

Having to travel to suburban town does not stop scores of those who are looking to find a good deal. The vendors offer all kinds of old things, such as old irons or sugar tongs, which were widely used in the 1940s and 1950s when sugar was sold in large chunks.

“Antique household items and old toys are really popular now,” vendor Natalya Pimenova told RT. “People come here from all over Moscow and they certainly know their onions. Nobody wants modern replicas – it’s the real thing they’re after.”

Unlike some iconic flea markets in London or Paris, the Russian ones are known to be for people keen to buy rather than sight-see.

However, though the markets may not be in the most scenic of spots, their goods-packed alleys are a true treasure trove – more than 2,000 vendors gather at Levsha on the busiest days. From Soviet-themed relics to fine collectibles or things straight out of a grandmother’s cabinet, the choice is yours.

Bargain-hunters have to arrive bright and early. By 11am business is already in full swing. Those after some the pick of the antiques get there by seven or eight.

If you are not an early bird, there is a way to get your hands on second-hand wares with a click of a mouse – and without any payment.

Two years ago, Maksim Karakulov set up the website called “Daru Dar” or literally “Gift to Gift”, where people offer things they no longer need for free. Rather than getting rid of old junk, it is about making a heartfelt gift.

“We usually offer gifts to our loved ones, to people we know,” Maksim told RT. “The aim of this website is to encourage gift-giving among total strangers – to make people meet each other and trust each other. We’d like to show that gift-giving can be much more rewarding than selling.”

The procedure is simple: you display your item online and if somebody wants it, you meet up. Every Friday the network’s members gather in Moscow’s Trubnaya Square. It looks like a giant swap meet, only no money is involved – people just swap things for thanks.

So whether you are a collector, a bargain-hunter or a browser, take a trip to a flea market or go online – and somebody’s tat may become your treasure.

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