Last summer, I discovered a second hand shop of dreams in Budapest. It sold British brands at low prices. Naively, I thought this was a one off but all over Poland, you’ll notice second hand shops bearing the sign, ‘Tania Odziez’. Literally meaning cheap clothes, these shops are big business in Poland. As a believer in buying things second hand, you can see why I was curious to find out what Krakow’s shops had to offer.
With prices written informally on pieces of neon paper, and of course, in Polish, it’s hard to work out exactly what an item costs. It’s not just the language barrier that can make it difficult. Prices can significantly vary depending on what day of the week you shop. Monday is notoriously more expensive as it’s the day the stock comes in, whilst Saturday is apparently the cheapest day of the week. We visited on a Monday and, using Google Translate, we discovered dresses were priced at 24 Zloty which is around £4.
You might think that isn’t expensive, I certainly don’t for second hand clothing that is in nearly new condition…but the clothing I saw, was clearly pre-loved. Bobbles, tears and faded dresses all mingled together. It was because of this that I decided against the silver glittery Zara boots I’d made a beeline for and also returned the vintage dress to the rail when I spotted a huge tear. Whilst shopping, a thought struck me. Is this where our cast-offs go when we sell them to private companies?
So, on our return, I decided to look into it. According to the United Nations Comrade Database, Poland sells the most clothing imported from the UK each year. $74 million worth to be precise. And it’s not just the clothes we choose to sell on. Brace yourself. Reportedly, our charity shop donations can also end up sold to wholesalers who then sell our goods to retailers.
Whilst, I didn’t buy anything this time. If we return to Poland, I’d happily spend a day rummaging in their second hand stores. However, there’s one question I’m still wrangling with in my head…
When you take out the element of charity, does this make thrifting less appealing?