Brocantes: a ‘nostalgic’ way to recycle

© Encarni Barrionuevo Sánchez

Brocantes are the best recycling system in Belgium. It takes the form of a street-market where people sell whatever kind of objects they do not need anymore. The principle is: for sellers, to recover some of the invested during life time selling belongings for a little amount of money; and, for buyers, to get second-hand objects at a good price.

At brocantes, anyone can either be a seller or a shopper. The fees for booking a stand are fixed by the organizers and vary depending on the city or neighbourhood where the street-market is held; it can go from 1 € per metre up to 35 € approx. for the whole stand. In any case, due to the popularity of this weekend-event it is easy to recover the investment and, even to make some benefits.

As regards to shoppers, they should know that earliest they arrive the best deals they can get, which means to be there at about 6-7am when the stands are usually being set up. They should also know that the neighbourhood where the market takes place is usually a good indicator of the kind of products and prices they would find. Of course, prices depend on sellers’ judgment. Nevertheless, even if sometimes at the first place prices could seem a bit exaggerated, a dialogue with the vendor could turn into a good deal. Negotiation is, essentially, a required-skill to get the most of brocantes. You should always try!

To participate in a brocante as a vendor is a good way to get rid of stuff and clean-up the house. This is something shoppers should also keep in mind; in fact, some vendors would not take back at home their products on sale even if at the end of the day they did not sell them. Instead, they may leave them on the street for those who are faster than the track-bin which usually cleans the premises once the brocante is over.

© Encarni Barrionuevo Sánchez

© Encarni Barrionuevo Sánchez

But, what might you find?

In substance, in a brocante you can basically find whatever you are not looking for but what you would actually find very handy to have. Regarding what you are truly looking for, well, you will probably find it too. In fact, after a walk among the stands, you will easily realize how much stuff we all accumulate, some quite useless, some instead perhaps interesting for you.

You might come across all kind of artefacts: kitchen tools, garden tools, sew tools..; all kind of both archaic and modern machines: fix telephones, mobile phones, radios, televisions, computers, videogames, sew machines, printer, scanners, projectors, photo cameras, motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles,..; collections of all kind: coins, stamps, glasses, war medals..; a lot of clothes for all ages, sex and styles; books, many books; and magazines, sometimes even full collections; vinys, a lot of vinyls as well; countless toys… this might actually be the paradise for children. In fact, one of the most commons stands are those where parents try to sell out their once-children’s toys, books and clothes.

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Other emblematic relics available are porcelain decorations, dinner services, glasses, mirrors, furniture, handbags and, many more. Often there are very well-conserved objects which make Brocantes the perfect place to bargain.

© Encarni Barrionuevo Sánchez

© Encarni Barrionuevo Sánchez

From any point of view, to do a brocante is an environmentally-friendly activity and can be a nostalgic trip. Among such accumulation of relics, memories arise. It is possible to come across objects which have been part of your life; objects which you had or wished to have. It is just extraordinary to leave you drive for such emotive walk into your past. As a seller or a shopper the experience is genuine and worthy.

See forthcoming brocantes at www.quefaire.be/brocantes/ .

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Brocante organised by Fondation Vivat Foyer, Général Cornet, Nivelles (Belgium), 2 September 2012

Acquisition: a mirror: 4 € ; a digital balance: 1 € ; three National Geographic magazines from 1985: 0’20 €

A good moment: coffee and pain-au-chocolat at 7am just when feeling a bit cold during the walk and the stomach starts screaming for food

Some other good feelings: nostagia; social responsibility;… just cool.

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