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Charity flea market draws crowds

By Nie Xin (Shanghai Daily)

11:25, January 21, 2013

Customers check out second-hand handicrafts at the Charity Flea Market which features clothes, accessories, home wares, books and CDs. (Shanghai Daily/Wang Rongjiang)

Keep it or dump it? It's always a question for Gao Liyan, a 38-year-old housewife, whose closet is filled with garments she made herself, from coats to sweaters.

"I like making clothes at home, but it's annoying when there's no place to keep them. My friends suggested I go to a flea market to sell or trade them," Gao says.

So last weekend (January 12-13) she participated in the Charity Flea Market for the first time.

Flea markets featuring second-hand clothes, accessories, home wares, books and CDs are becoming popular in Shanghai, especially among young people who look for creative items. The venues include low-rent restaurants, creative hubs in old factories and shopping malls.

The Charity Flea Market (公益家) is one of the city's largest markets for handicrafts, attracting locals and expats interested in charity, art design, hand-made crafts, recycling and environmental protection.

The flea market, which started in 2008, is usually held once or twice on weekends each month. It moved from a small restaurant on Nanjiing Road E. to 1933 Old Millfun and other creative parks. Now it operates at Shengyuan Plaza in Zhabei District and the next gathering is February 2 and 3.

Last weekend as many as 3,000 people visited 50 stalls.

Ni Jia, a 24-year-old local and flea market regular, says she's glad to find low-cost handmade crafts, magazines, books, clothes, kitchenware, household items, toys, pet items, appliances and artwork.

Ni calls herself a "flea market-holic." She first bought two pairs of earrings made of old porcelain at Liang Weimei's stall at the Charity Flea Market in Shengyuan Plaza.

Guangxi-native Liang designs and makes her own products and has been a regular charity market stall owner for three years since 2010 at 1933 Old Millfun. Today the 25-year-old runs two stalls, one selling scarves, gloves and hats, the other handicrafts, jewelry and small toys made of china from Jingdezhen, regarded as "China's capital of china ware" in Jiangxi Province.

Her DIY accessories cost from 20 to 70 yuan (US$3-US$11), and she earned 300 yuan in one hour on the first day of market last weekend. Daily turnover was around 1,000 yuan.

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