This month sees the return of The Sheraton Flea Markets, where Abu Dhabi residents can pick up gems for a song. Liz Totton will be there, will you be hunting also?
The UAE is not known for second hand shopping. If you are in the market for Prada, Versace, Ferraris or 24K gold-covered anything, Abu Dhabi is your shopping destination. But if lookin’ incredible in your granddad’s clothes is more your style, then there may be one place you’ll find something to suit your style.
Expats are a transient lot, nomadic by nature. We should, but often, don’t travel light, acquiring more and more every year and then purging the excess in June during the annual expat exodus. It isn’t a coincidence there are more than 50 unique Facebook marketplaces in Abu Dhabi alone dedicated to selling unwanted household items.
Hip hop superstar Macklemore glamorised second hand shopping in his song Thrift Shop. There are hordes of people devoted to the pursuit of wading through other people’s cast outs in search of that certain something or other; maybe it’s a Bobby McFerrin CD, vintage elevator shoes or that hard-to-find tenth fondue fork needed to complete the set. The concept of bargain shopping may be novel to this part of the world, but it’s not new to The West. From flea markets, to garage sales to craigslist, westerners have been off-loading their unwanted household items for decades for fun and profit.
But UAE bargain-hunters can now rejoice! The Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort is thrilled to bring shoppers and vendors back together on September 27 for a fun-filled flea market shopping day. Vendors from all over the emirate will be on hand to sell their pre-loved goods, and the best parts are that entry is free, and it’s for a good cause.
If you have never been to a flea market, there are a few things you should know before you go. The Murphy’s Law of flea marketing is NOT to visit one on a mission to find anything in particular. If you do, it’s unlikely you’ll find it, and you may leave disappointed. It’s much better to go with an open mind and a curious attitude. You will find vendors keen to share information about their unusual wares. This is not usually ‘Made in China’ kind of stuff, and they will tell you exactly what makes their item one-of-a-kind. Another understood rule is to haggle – that’s half the fun. There are no price tags, and everything is negotiable. Finally, remember this is not Antiques Roadshow. You are unlikely to stumble on one of Picasso’s early drawings that lay hidden in the seller’s attic for decades; the seller thinking it was drawn by someone’s kid and selling it for a pittance. Though it could happen, it’s unlikely that it will. Don’t go expecting a financial windfall. Do expect to leave with knick-knacks, a vintage scarf, a unique piece of furniture, some random kitchen item that you thought you can only get in your home country, or just something that makes you smile for whatever reason.
What makes visiting the Sheraton Flea Market all the more fun is that it’s for a really good cause. Who doesn’t love to shop? Sometimes shopping can feel rather soulless. Malls are so alike and, in general, it’s not the most engaging human interaction because it’s mostly about the sale. Unlike mall shopping, the Sheraton Flea Market is shopping you can feel great about. The flea market is held three to four times annually and all the proceeds go to bettering the life of children living in poverty. Last year, the organisation raised more than Dhs35,000 which was spent sending a group of volunteers to assist the Impoverished Children orphanage in Kenya. The orphanage and school is in the middle of Kibera, a slum in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, with an estimated population of more than one million inhabitants. You can learn more about Impoverished Children project on the charity’s blog, the 2014 volunteer destination is yet to be determined.
Entry is free, tables cost Dhs285, September 27 9am-2pm, Judith.Duffy@sheraton.com (02 677 3333).