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Treasures on a Budget

Shop Manager Maria Tuunanen at The Red Cross shop makes sure all items are in good order. (Photo: Johannes Kaarakainen)
Shop Manager Maria Tuunanen at The Red Cross shop makes sure all items are in good order. (Photo: Johannes Kaarakainen)

Second hand shops come in handy, when you are furnishing a new flat with only a little to spend.

If you’ve recently arrived in Jyväskylä and have looked in horror at the price of making yourself comfortable, then fear not, there is a cheaper alternative! Second hand shopping seems to be an intrinsic part of the Finnish culture and an attractive prospect for those on a limited budget.
One can often find slightly used household items at a fraction of their new price. Even if you’re not looking for something specific, second hand shops and flea-markets can often contain unexpected treasures.

Second hand shops fall into two categories: Organised shops and stall-based ’flea-markets’. Organised shops have items in categories since a single seller (the shop) owns all the goods, they are often better categorised and it is easier to find items that you are looking for in these shops.
If you are looking for a specific item, you are probably better off looking in an organised shop. If, however, you are interested in browsing, and the occasional pleasant surprise, you may find flea-markets interesting. Flea-markets consist of separate stalls, each owned by different sellers. While less well organised than the shops, flea-markets are full of surprises.
”I found three pairs of shoes that were totally new, two pairs of boots and even a pair of ice-skates”, tells Aida Khorsandi, a Music student from Iran.
”Most of the time, I just go to look around”, she adds.
Ilkka Turunen, who studies Software Technology at JAMK University of Applied Sciences, had a similarly pleasant experience: after breaking his coffee pot one morning, he visited a second hand shop to browse.
”And there it was, the exact same coffee pot without the brewer, sitting abandoned on a shelf. I took it home and had the best damn coffee of my life”, Turunen says.
Perhaps the biggest savings can be made by buying your kitchen equipment used rather than new.
”In the first days when I came to Finland, it was a good place to get some cheap stuff we needed for the flat, water boiler, bowls, plates and so on”, mentions Zoltan Papp, a Hungarian master’s degree student.

While kitchen equipment, shoes and the odd piece of furniture are usually safe buys, there are certain things one should avoid. Khorsandi suggests avoiding things like underwear or bedsheets. As a rule, clothes should be washed before wearing them since the sellers might not have.  And if you are picky about style, flea-markets might not be your thing.
”Most male clothing at second hand shops consists of used, greyed out collared shirts and old leather jackets”, Turunen says.

For students living in Kortepohja, there is Kierukka or ”the Free Shop” as some have nicknamed it. The basic concept of Kierukka is that of a swap-shop, ”customers” can donate and take items as they see fit, not money is exchanged. Most of Kierukka’s stock is far from new and not always in the best of conditions. For example Khorsandi deems the stuff to be ”quite old and non-usable.”
However, among the trash there can be treasures from coffee cups and espresso machines to vacuum cleaners and ice skates. Those interested in the prospect can visit Kierukka on the ground floor of C building in Kortepohja on Tuesdays between 17 and 19.

Second hand shops can greatly reduce the cost of making yourself cozy in a new home and are definitely worth a look for those on a student budget. If money is not an issue for you, second hand shops and flea-markets may still be worth a look, you never know what treasures may be waiting to be discovered.

Mark Halmagiu

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