Preloved Paradise – Basel
Text contributed by BCT Contributor Samina Kirst (Featured in February 2020’s Parenting)
There are a few commonly held stereotypes about Switzerland. Our move here proved many of these to be true.
The mountains and lakes are indeed spectacular, and the chocolates are some of the best in the world. And the punctuality of Swiss public transport is the stuff of dreams, at least for those of us coming from the United Kingdom.
Also true: the cost of living is high. Yet many don’t realise that Switzerland, including Basel, also offers bargains at every corner. Sometimes even literally.
In many countries, discarded things on the street often do not warrant a second look. These items are usually at the end of their lives and are not in the best conditions. But not so in Basel. Here, second-hand items sitting under a “GRATIS” sign are often in good shape. From books to shoes to cupboards and edible treats.
Swiss residents seem to be big believers in the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. To this end, some apartment blocks and offices have dedicated areas for people to deposit or take preloved goods.
There are also numerous “Brockenhaus” offering gems. Also known as “Brockis”, these institutions are not-for-profit second-hand shops selling all sorts of things.
A large Brocki (Buecher-Brocky) sells second-hand books in different languages just a few minutes walk from the Basel SBB Station. Likewise, there are also big Brockis operated by Heilesarmee, HIOB International and Blaukreuz in and around Basel Stadt and Basel Land alongside smaller and independent Brockis.
Flea market galore
One can also find, throughout the year, various flea markets or “Flohmis” in Basel Stadt and Basel Land. One can land bargains at these places and learn more about each item’s history.
Robi Spiel Aktionen sells many children’s goods (be prepared to spend time sifting). And the Quartier Flohmarkete Basel is concerned with more general things. Check the latter’s website – the market usually runs on certain weekends from April to October.
Basel Stadt dwellers typically use the Flohmis as an opportunity to clear out unwanted items or pick up some bargains. The residents set up tables in their gardens, garages, communal hallways and doorsteps. These moments present a way for people to get to know their neighbours and others living in the same or nearby areas.
The Markthalle in Basel Stadt hosts regular indoor flea markets. Sometimes these markets have specific themes. For instance, they relate to vinyl, children’s items or comics.
Not very far away, Petersplatz is known to host flea markets on Saturdays.
Swiss residents can also shop second-hand from the comfort of their living room.
In addition to the standard marketplace on Facebook, one can also search for Basel-based groups and pages for second-hand goods. Ricardo.ch and Tutti.ch are popular websites. Both cover different regions in Switzerland.
Lighter for the wallet and environment
The cost of living in Switzerland is high, but one can mitigate this by frequenting the mentioned cost-saving shops and platforms.
Also, crucially, we can help reduce waste and lighten the environment’s load by giving preloved items a home instead of buying new all the time.
* Editor’s note: We edited the piece to meet the blog’s requirements.