Shopping malls bore you and you don’t want to shop online. Meera Murugesan suggests heading for the flea market to get some fabulous finds
IT has become the favourite haunt of bargain hunters and shopaholics and for good reason.
There’s something very relaxing and appealing about starting the weekend with a trip to the local flea market and walking away with that unique little find that becomes a conversation piece in your home or a much-loved item in your wardrobe.
The term “flea market” is believed to have originated from the French phrase, marche aux puces (market with fleas).
It apparently referred to a 19th Century bazaar in Paris which sold used items, some of which were very old and flea infested.
Modern flea markets, however, offer a mix of old and new goods and the Klang Valley has more than its share of such bazaars, offering everything from home-cooked food to trendy clothing, second-hand designer accessories and knick-knacks for the house.
The secret to flea market shopping is simple — browse and bargain. Here are some of the popular flea markets in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor:
Amcorp Mall Flea Market
Where: Lower ground floor, Amcorp Mall Petaling Jaya. An outdoor market also operates in the concourse area.
When: Weekends (10am-6pm). The outdoor market starts on Friday.
Located next to the Taman Jaya LRT station, it is known for its antique and vintage collectibles and striking bead accessories as well as old world items such as charcoal irons, gramophones and old records to grandma’s pretty porcelain plates and bowls.
Bead accessories are also a bargain. One can pick up a complete set (necklace and earrings) for as little as RM10.
Mont Kiara Flea Market
Where: Courtyard, Plaza Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.
When: Thursdays (1pm-10pm) and Sundays (9am-3pm).
This outdoor market is known for many things but has an especially good selection of handbags and clothing. Designs appeal to the young, trendy and fashion-forward. Many of the handbags look like they have been sourced from upmarket boutiques and some are even branded.
There’s also a range of fashionable clothing from Taiwan and Korea, the kind of skirts, tops and dresses that usually only make it into your wardrobe after a holiday abroad.
The Curve Flea Market
Where: The Street, The Curve, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya
When: Weekends (10am-10pm).
A great place to pick up something special and decorative for the home. Embroidered pillow cases, cushions and table runners, decorative candles, wall hangings, place mats and other table accessories are all on sale.
Potted plants are also available. Browse around and you’ll come across something special to enhance your bedroom, add colour to your dining table or spice up your kitchen. Keep in mind that weekends can get pretty congested here.
Where: Just beside Central Market, Kuala Lumpur.
When: Daily (11am-10.30pm).
You don’t have to wait till the weekend for flea markets. This daily bazaar, with about 50 kiosks, is the place to go for unique souvenirs and handicraft from Southeast Asia.
If you love an ethnic or tropical touch in your home or are looking for that one-of a-kind-gift, this should be your destination. If hunger pangs strike, there’s plenty of street food available.
Stadium Shah Alam Flea Market
Where: Parking lot next to Stadium Shah Alam, Selangor.
When: Sundays (7am - 2pm.)
If you don’t mind second-hand clothing or “factory rejects”, head for this outdoor bazaar where bargain hunting takes on a whole new meaning. Pick up T-shirts for as low as RM5 or pretty blouses, dresses and sleepwear that really allow you to stretch your ringgit. Some clothes and accessories even come from well-known labels so it’s real value for money shopping. Lots of traditional Malay cakes and delicacies are also sold.
IF a fantastic flea market find gives you a retail high, imagine the excitement for those who organise such bazaars.
Deanna Ibrahim and Haslinda Hamzah are two such people. The two friends organise between three and five flea markets a year under a banner called Threadszoo.
Deanna is a full-time model while Haslinda is a student, pursuing a degree in psychology and communications.
Last year, they organised the Krusty Market in Metropolitan Square, Petaling Jaya, Bazaraya at Rasta in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur and The Threadszoo at Red Carpet Avenue in Damansara Perdana.
Each market they organise is distinct and boasts its own unique theme. Happy Hippies, which they put together in 2010, drew inspiration from the flower power era while The Threadszoo event had a safari theme.
Deanna, who founded Threadszoo in 2007 before Haslinda joined her, used to be an online shopaholic but was never satisfied with the fact that she couldn’t feel and try the merchandise she was purchasing. When she organised her first bazaar in Hartamas, she invited online shops to participate and started with 10 vendors.
These days, Threadszoo gets an average of 100 interested vendors each time it organises a bazaar. One of its goals is to provide a platform for small businesses to showcase their products, hone their skills in marketing and managing customers and learn their strengths and weaknesses.
“For the consumer, flea markets offer the thrill of finding hidden treasures. We, ourselves, have found great bargains in our own bazaars,” says Deanna who once bought a pair of original Dr. Martens boots for only RM80.
Haslinda says flea markets are crowd pullers as they offer unique, hand-made items from creative vendors at affordable prices.
“They’re also places where you find food, fun and friends and loads of affordable bargains under one roof,”
Bijou Bazaar is another popular flea market grouping which first started in 2007. Like Threadszoo, this pop-up bazaar also offers a platform for young creative micro retailers to test the viability of their products and find their niche in the market.
It’s described on its Facebook page as a “guerrilla fashion and craft bazaar” that was built from a love of finding new treasures and emerging talents and the belief in the power of leverage.
Vendors not just have an affordable space to market their products, but also gain from networking with one another and sharing each other’s strengths and resources.
Maryam Samirah Shamsuddin, the founder of Bijou Bazaar, says flea markets are popular because a diet of sprawling shopping malls and cookie cutter boutiques has left many consumers saturated yet unfulfilled.
“It’s not more products we crave, but an exchange of ideas, knowledge and experiences,” she says
Bijou Bazaar offers a solution to what Maryam describes as today’s “soulless shopping landscape” by yoking commerce to culture.
Right from its early days, Bijou Bazaar has positioned itself as distinct and different from the average flea market. It doesn’t just focus on retail offerings but also on music, art and design and functions as a place to unwind, socialise and exchange ideas.
Thrill of flea market shopping
COMMUNICATIONS consultant Punita Samy, who visits flea markets almost every weekend, says she can’t resist the lure of a great bargain.
She has bought everything from cakes and pastries to clothes, necklaces and earrings at various flea markets.
Among her best buys include a pair of beautifully painted porcelain milk jugs for RM5 each and a multi-tiered bead necklace for RM10.
“Flea markets offer so much more variety than many department stores and prices are more affordable,” says Punita.
Catherine Lau, another flea market fan, says the fact that unique, one-of-a-kind items are available, makes such bazaars very attractive.
Lau once managed to find a set of pretty porcelain bowls to match a dinnerware collection that her grandmother gave her many years ago.
Sisters Sheila and Sushmita Anand also love flea market buys. They even make it a point to visit such bazaars when they travel overseas.
They both love high quality, designer clothes and accessories and don’t mind second-hand ones that are available in flea markets as long as they’re in good condition.
“It’s such a thrill to spot something you’ve always wanted and at a great price,” says Sheila.