Thursday, December 30, 2010

Selling Second Hand in Italy

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!


  1. I miss second-hand stores too as well as garage/yard sales, flea markets (where ordinary people sell their old stuff), etc. I still haven't been able to find anything comparable down here :(

  2. Michelle, I know! I miss those too. It seems that everyone who wants to sell has to do it in an organized fashion, which usually requires paying more money upfront on both sides. The comune usually has to approve of any outdoor sales and the process is cumbersome. In my area, we have a town called Brugine which has a famous kind of giant yard sale where you can rent tables. It is held on the first Sunday of each month. I think a table costs Euro 100 and the customers pay Euro 2 just to get in the door (of the villa's garden where it is hosted). Or Venice has a couple events in a few campi, but it's just not the same as our US yard sales with hand-drawn signs taped on road signs on the main roads and everything being free for all!

  3. Hey :)
    Supposing you read this (and are still interested ;)), I was just in the same "trouble", though looking to buy, not to sell, there are three shops in Padua which we found, even though I didn't find Il Mercatino. :D
    First one is Blasco, it's on Via Dante, fairly close to the Orologio. (,11.873421&spn=0.002173,0.005284&sll=45.410049,11.873405&layer=c&cbp=13,289.89,,0,13.97&cbll=45.410033,11.873421&hnear=Via+Dante,+59,+35139+Padova,+Veneto,+Italy&t=h&z=18&vpsrc=0&panoid=G-yodTvRO1wv8JvYfiY3yA)
    Second one is Vestiti di Nuovo, on the Riviera Mussato. We didn't spend so much time there, but it looked big. (,+Riviera+Albertino+Mussato,+Padova,+Italia&hl=en&ll=45.40839,11.868276&spn=0.002173,0.005284&sll=45.40375,11.868646&sspn=0.002188,0.005284&vpsrc=0&hq=Vestiti+Di+Nuovo+Snc+Di+Celleghin+E+Passaggio+-+Abbigliamento+Usato,&hnear=Riviera+Albertino+Mussato,+35139+Padova,+Veneto,+Italy&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=45.408514,11.868271&panoid=OY4XqH2j9MlwWwasHrZ0bA&cbp=13,59.57,,0,13.16)
    And the third one is Zapata, where we found what we were looking for, it's directly behind the Scientology center (which is why we were first scared to look for it... well. Found it in the end.) The collection there looked quite diverse, not only high-fashion stuff (probably not only high-fashion in the other shops either, but if you're looking to sell, this one might be the one which is most interested). (,11.880548&spn=0.002173,0.005284&sll=45.469762,11.774597&sspn=1.111363,2.705383&vpsrc=6&hq=scientology&hnear=Padua,+Veneto,+Italy&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=45.415051,11.880548&panoid=m31jnxPti_JYk_e82T3NBg&cbp=13,308.75,,0,1.28)

    Now I hope this helped someone. ;)
    Greetings, I love your blog, even though I usually read silently...

  4. So thanks. I did find the storefront of the one on the Riviera the other month, but need to go in. It's not easy to get to usually, based on my work schedule and parking on the weekends :) Glad to hear you are reading my blog.

  5. Why on earth do you expect a 'middle aged woman' to wear (your) unstylish clothes?

  6. Dear Anonymous, I think that's a telling point. Many middle-aged and truly old Italian women are wearing clothes that are, at times, so trendy they look ridiculous in them. Classic doesn't mean out-of-fashion. Just because I am getting rid of pants that are still in good condition because I take good care of them, does not mean they are grungy or look old. They just weren't necessarily bought last year or the year before. And the girl doesn't necessarily know what classic is. Or her clients just insist on terribly trendy.

  7. Hi, I'm italian and planning to open a secondhand shop by franchising, your opinions, coming from people that used to buy secondhand in their respective countries are very useful to understand the habits of my countrymen, thankyou Irene and all visitors

  8. Thanks for sharing! Very nice blog!

  9. Thank you, Mike. Glad to be of help, Eleonora.