There’s something about massive piles of junk which just fills me with joy. Ever since I was a kid (and charity shops were deeply unfashionable) I’ve loved rooting around in slightly unloved, dusty, or otherwise vaguely unpromising locations looking for hidden treasure. It’s part of the reason I like shopping at TK Maxx, too. In a world of throwaway landfill consumerism, rescuing and giving new life to old things rather than buying them brand new is also unquestionably a good environmental choice: I’m impressed by zero waste activists such as Lauren Singer and Bea Johnson who dedicate their lives to reducing their environmental impact and not creating landfill waste by avoiding purchasing packaged items and anything which contains plastic.
While I try to put my beliefs into action (I buy virtually all my clothing secondhand! I don’t drink bottled water! I compost!), I’m still as guilty as most of creating waste. And, truth be told, I think I’d like charity shops, flea markets, and secondhand emporia of all kinds even if it weren’t for their ethical merit. So, before I make a trip anywhere, I often research my secondhand shopping options.
Spain has no real charity shop culture outside of the big cities – the one charity shop chain I’ve found in the country is Humana, which only has stores in Barcelona, Granada, Madrid and Seville. The vintage scene is also lacking. Where the Spanish do an excellent job, though, is in their flea markets. So while I sadly missed out on Seville’s popular El Jueves market on my recent visit, I was able to go on Sunday to Mercadillo Charco de la Pava – and this is what I saw:
I still regret not buying the red and blue skirt on the left. It had a matching top and shawl and it was just fabulous and perfect.
Secondhand books were my first love. When I was at university, I filled my room in halls with copies of the classics from the Egham branch of Oxfam. I’ve cut back on the books since but I still bought one here for old times’ sake.
I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of this quirky book about the reproductive habits of canaries.
I really wanted this handpainted blue chair, but it wouldn’t fit in my hand luggage.
Catholic paraphernalia is one of my flea market faves. Probably my favourite-ever flea market buy is a battered miniature statue of the Virgin and Child which I bought in the south of France one summer for €1.
The real reason I was there: flamenco dresses. Look at the detail on this one!
I love the colours here. Seville and Andalucía generally are such sunny, colourful places and these dresses sum that up for me.
More flamenco dresses. Can you believe some ladies buy themselves a new one every year? They’re not cheap.
Finally: this is all I came away with, minus the book I mentioned earlier. Wasn’t I restrained? Everything pictured cost just €1 per item, with the exception of the Seville Expo ’92 badge featuring mascot Curro, which cost €2. I splashed out there as it was a nostalgic gift for my Spanish boyfriend who was unlucky enough to be working at the University of Seville while I was flea market shopping (lol).
Flea market details:
Charco de la Pava is a large flea market hosted every weekend morning on the Isla de la Cartuja in Seville. It’s walking distance from the city centre. Secondhand items are for sale on Sundays only.
There didn’t appear to be any toilets on site. Go before you arrive as it’s a good walk to the nearest cafe or bar. I saw plenty of men relieving themselves at the sides of the market grounds.
Most vendors are unlikely to speak English (and speak Spanish with strong Andalusian accents!) so be prepared with a few phrases. I was warned about pickpockets while I was there but I kept a close eye on my things and luckily was unaffected. Take small change.