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Flee to the fleas

THE weather's getting warm and it's a fine time to check out weekend flea markets where you can find everything from vintage togs to brand-new outfits for children. Zhuomin Lee goes for a stroll.

One man's junk is another man's treasure. From the famed Wenmiao "ghost market" (a weekly pre-dawn secondhand book sale starting 3am on Sundays on Wenmiao Road in the Confucius Temple) to the Qiujiang Road Electronics Market featuring a wide range of new and secondhand electronics (near Metro Line 3 Baoshan Road Station), if you have lived in Shanghai for a while, you will be no stranger to bargains and street markets.

Break away from these permanent markets buzzing with tourists and prove yourself a true local by catching up on other fleas in and around the suburbs. There is something for everybody, whether you are looking for a space to get rid of last season's clothes or just want to enjoy an afternoon wandering through a dizzy maze of knick-knacks from yesterday.

Shanghai Daily tracks down five of these weekend flea markets.

Kids shop in style too

You do not want to pass up an opportunity finding something unique for your three-year-old, especially if you are wild about all things handmade with a lot of love. Expect to find nothing secondhand or mass-produced and everything original.

Shanghai-based designers and artists from all over the world come together at this neighborhood market to showcase a diverse collection of niche, limited-edition designers' stuff infused with a twist of creativity. There are comfy clothes made from organic cotton, armchairs, beanbags, aprons and bibs for junior.

This perfectly thought-out market is oriented toward families with young children. It is held on a weekday in the former French concession, for the benefit of its target population - mothers with young children to get out of the house for a bit, shop, network and exchange baby tips.

Even if you have no need for toys, fabric, artwork, party décor, bedding, books or advice on how to coax your child to sleep, this seasonal kids' flea is still worth a swing-by for some of its other unconventional surprises - colorful cupcakes, cookies and candies, coffee, chutneys and charm bracelets. All handmade with love.

Kids' Bazaar

The next one: May 23

Frequency: Seasonal. Check zocou.com for more details.

A slice of Old Shanghai

You won't find another flea like this. Housed in the middle of a residential compound for retired war veterans, this studio is more of a museum than a market.

Siblings Wang Xiaojia and Wang Laohei come from a family of photographers and are proud to have lived in Shanghai for generations. They walk you through a history of old Shanghai from the 1930s as they show you their personal collections - artifacts from pre-World War II to the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976). Some belong to the family, passed down from generation to generation, such as a rare glass tea set; others are secondhand clothes and items left behind by other people.

You may be tempted to buy one or two vintage coats going for a cheap 100 yuan (US$16) but are also likely to go home empty-handed, just to preserve this slice of history, as have others before you. Take heart however, you go home with a stomach full of knowledge. Watch out for the resident cat.

Shanghai 1937

Frequency: Every Saturday, 1-5pm

Address: 110 Lintong Rd, Hongkou District

The studio is closed to the public on weekdays, open only to an exclusive clientele of friends' friends and clients who have called in advance to make a booking for a photo shoot.

Do your bit for charity

Way back in 2008, this market was one of the earlier fleas to jump up in Shanghai, ever since friends Guo and Zhang saw how their interests and experiences complemented one another like a perfect jigsaw - Guo used to sell scarves at a weekly flea when she was on an exchange program in Ireland; Zhang was a volunteer for a local migrant school and felt more could be done for the children.

On weekends, a group of regulars - from full-time white-collar professionals to university students - come together selling an assortment of handmade crafts, secondhand and designer clothes, stationery, toys, accessories and some out-of-this-world items.

Ten percent of the proceeds from the table fee go to helping children from migrant families. This good old community flea also features food stalls, live music, a children's corner and NGO volunteers setting up shop to publicize their cause. A good way to show support for the budding entrepreneurial spirit, do good for charity and get to know the Joneses next door, if you ask us.

Charity flea market

Frequency: Once in two weeks, though its frequency decreases in summer. Check www.gongyijia.com/en/events for details.

Loves music, loves to dance

Give yourself a pat on the back if you manage to find this flea on your own. Held in the basement of a residential building, this market is a hippie retro fan's dream come true.

Handmade art, secondhand items, independent labels and useless toys are the usual suspects. But as is predictable of an organizer who is also actively involved with the underground record store, you will be lost in a stack of old records and cassette tapes of songs your dad crooned to your mother at their wedding.

Vintage clothes, strange fashions, a crowd of like-minded people, cool DJs and sometimes live music by local bands (depending on whether the residents upstairs complain about the noise level) make you feel like you are back at the Nottinghill Arts Club.

This underground yuppie community is totally London, totally ghetto. Enough said.

Uptown Market

Address: Underground, 115 Pingwu Rd, Changning District

Frequency: Last Saturday of every month. Check http://weibo.com/uptownrecords for more details.


Have an afternoon of fun digging through someone's junk, or rather, retro vintage stuff as the young would call it. There are piles and piles of clothes, good shoes and accessories fit for a new wardrobe. Dreams Flea Market is the opportunity for people to clear out their wardrobe and to give old things a second chance. This popular flea market features almost anything and everything you would expect of a classic flea.

Unlike the secondhand antiques market on Dongtai road, however, this has a community element that encourages people to come together to connect and save the environment through re-using and recycling old stuff.

Beijing-born Yu Sisi and her Singaporean husband have been doing this ever since February 2012. She attributes the flea's resounding success to changing societal perceptions.

"In the past, people did not like buying secondhand or used things because they were considered poor or old. This is changing in China, however, as going through once-favorites is now a fun thing to do," Yu says.

There are also handmade accessories and firsthand items, if you care for them. Sometimes there is also a charity element involved. The previous one was held in support of saving street dogs and cats.

Dreams Flea Market

The next one: April 19, 7pm-12am

Frequency: Every month. Check

http://weibo.com/dreamsfactory or http://dreamsfactory.asia/?cat=8 for details.

Address: SBC Library, 1195 Fuxing Rd

E-mail to info@dreamsfactory.asia.

Written by Zhuomin Lee

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