It took me forever to find a few second hand shops in the Padua area.
I had grown up in the States, visiting them at least once a month. I pratically lived in clothes from there as a child. I found great, cheap and funky things as a teenager. Once at art college, I located some more objects to convert into art assignments such as a compound found-glass sculpture and a cigar box memory trove.
While living in New York City, I bought some odd evening wear.
Then I moved to Italy and these special stores didn't seem to exist.
Italians push through the latest fashions with new clothes and shoes to don every year. I wondered where all of last year's abiti and scarpe had gone? I could only see big yellow donation containers on some streets to explain their end. These are designed for donations to the poor. But what about people who don't want to spend full retail price, but aren't "officially poor"? What about getting furniture at rock-bottom prices, but not going to IKEA?
Finally I found my solution: Il Mercatino chain and a few other shops. I could start to peruse used wares again. It has come in very handy, especially since I have a house to furnish now.
After buying a few things, I also wanted to unload some other items from my closet and garage. I decided to sell in these venues. I started with clothes. But this is where things got culturally very different. They wouldn't accept half of the items! "They are out-of-fashion," the girl said. Even classic fully-lined wool pants were put into the pile of unacceptable merchandise. "Wow!" I thought, "Couldn't they be appropriate for a middle aged woman, perhaps?" No, either the cut was too wide for the pants or the sweaters too short. She was afraid she wouldn't be able to sell them. So I realized that even the second hand shops are quite trendy in Italy. You're supposed to be selling your clothes only a year after you buy them, while the styles are still fairly current.
In the end, I did unload some clothes. My funky hats were sold immediately. (Leopard-print and transparent vinyl are all the rage, I guess!) The others items are still waiting to find homes. Anyone looking for a violet wool jumper set from Benetton?
Italians take their clothes seriously, even at the second hand stage. Now I am taking a better look at Il Mercatino's fashion section. If I can buy a great jacket which retailed for Euro 150 last year at one of the big brand name stores and is being displayed on these racks this year at Euro 20, I would say that's a good buy!