A guide to thrifting in St Petersburg
24 July, 2019
Since moving to St Petersburg from the UK, I have been on a mission to hunt down cheap and sustainable ways to shop. Back in England I am an avid thrifter, meaning that I love buying things in second hand shops! It is so helpful to do this as a student who needs to save money, but also crucial as someone who is conscious of the environmental impact of fast fashion. For me then, buying second hand is the best of both worlds: cheap and ecological. It is relatively easy to find big second hand shops all over the city, but these break down into a few categories; standard, designer, and charity shops. Likewise, SPB has great markets for second hand shopping, which can be even cheaper and have more unique items than you can find in the shops! In this article I’ll take you through some of the best places to go thrifting in St Petersburg.
The standard second hand shop in St Petersburg shouldn’t be underestimated. Most of them are large and neatly arranged, with great prices. Better still, quite a lot of these shops have discounts depending on which day you’re there, ranging from up to 50% off all items. Each shop usually has its own list of which days are discounted, so make sure to check it when you arrive at one, if you can’t find it online. The days with the high discounts are usually very busy, but that just makes it better if you manage to find something perfect for you at a low price, even when racing against the other bargain hunters. My main recommendations for these types of shops in the city are: Vо!Vа!, Midol Second Hand Network, and Planeta Second Hand. Be aware that prices tend to be higher and the items more picked over in the centre of the city, so don’t be afraid to venture to places further on the outskirts for your finds!
In terms of designer second hand shops, the prices naturally are a lot higher due to the fact that we are now talking about luxury brands like Gucci and Chanel. If you are into designer clothing however you’ll know that whilst being more expensive than a standard second hand item of clothing, the discounts are still substantial when buying second hand compared to original or retail price. My recommendation for these types are Butik Komilfo and Zheltaya Veshalka. Check out the VKontakte page of Butik Komilfo here if you want an idea of the types of items they’re selling https://vk.com/butikkomilfo!
Charity shops are second hand shops where all of the proceeds go to charity, instead of being for profit. These are harder to find in St Petersburg than in my native UK, where bigger second hand shops basically don’t exist, but there are a couple of them in the city. The chain ‘Спасибо!’, and the shop ‘Благодаря’ are the main two worth talking about. For any non-Russian speakers reading this, the first literally means thank you, and the second translates as ‘thanks to’. These names relate to the best part about charity shops – you can shop as much as you like there and still do a good deed, knowing that the money you spend goes to charity! The prices are still relatively low, and ‘Спасибо!’ has a lot of lovely hand-made items on sale as well as second hand products if you’re interested.
My final, and favourite, place to thrift in the whole city is Udel’naya market. If you haven’t already heard about this market, it is a necessary trip no matter whether you have shopping or just a day out in mind. Whilst this spot is pretty average throughout the week, on weekends it completely comes alive as people set up stalls selling anything and everything you could imagine. Whether its furniture, souvenirs, or clothing that you’re searching for, I guarantee that you will not find a better and more economical place in the city to get it. I went there in October just as the Russian winter had started to come (following the realisation that my British winter wardrobe would soon leave me frostbitten), and managed to get about eight quality items of clothing for under 1500 roubles. Not only are the prices staggering but the whole atmosphere is amazing; music playing, people haggling, historical flags and decorations hanging everywhere. Whatever your reason, you absolutely have to go! Bear in mind though that markets tend to be a lot less organised, so only check it out for thrifting if you don’t mind getting involved in a real search.
I hope this has been helpful to you! Whether you’re a life long bargain hunter or just getting started, I’m absolutely sure you will have find incredible items in any of the places I’ve mentioned above. Have fun and good luck trying thrifting in St Petersburg! Пока, увидимся!