Buying ¥100 clothes at flea markets
Many people think that clothes in Japan are too expensive. You can go to cheap stores like H&M, but they might not have what you need. If you have limited budget and are in need of buying new clothes, you should check out flea markets.
Flea markets are open markets where people can sell their own stuff that they don’t need anymore. Many people don’t want to just throw their stuff away so they sell it to other with cheap prices. The benefit of this is the seller can earn a little money from unused stuff and the buyer gets what they need for a much cheaper price than buying a new one. The product quality varies because it depends on the sellers. However, most Japanese people treat their belongings very carefully so you can buy a lot of stuff that are as good as new.
There are many flea markets in Tokyo. They are usually located at busies areas like Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Yoyogi, etc. One of the most popular flea markets is located near Shinagawa station. It’s open every Sunday from 9am to 4 pm. About 100 people sell their stuff here every week. You can apply for a place to sell your own stuff if you want. Since it’s a flea market, don’t expect to find booths like at a festival. People display their stuff on the floor or hang them on hangers. You can pick what you like and ask the seller for price. This is when you need the art of bargaining.
The price at flea markets varies, so you must bargain for the cheapest deal. Some people who sell clothes have a fixed price of ¥100, but not all of their stuff is good. You can still choose some good pieces of clothes among them though. Most people will set their price around ¥300 to ¥1000 yen or more, depends on the original price of the goods or other reasons. You can always ask for 1/3 of their price, and see the seller’s reaction. If you see that they are nice and can be persuaded, insist on asking them to reduce the price. If the seller won’t change the price even ¥1 yen or they look kind of unfriendly, move on to the next one. Unless you find a piece you really like and you’re okay with the price.
The important part of bargaining is you have to be patient, or you might end up buying something with ¥1000 while you could have bought it with ¥100. Don’t hesitate to move on if the sellers askes for a high price. Walk around the whole market, maybe you’ll find the same thing with a cheaper price. If you go back and the seller still won’t change his mind, insist on it again, this time don’t ask for 1/3 of the original price but 2/3 instead. If they look mad or not very happy with you, just give up and move on. If they look nice, keep insisting until they agree to sell you at the price you offered.
Remember that sellers at flea markets don’t care about customer service because they are not doing any kind of big business. They are just selling stuff they don’t need anymore. If they can’t sell them, they’ll just throw them away. So don’t expect to see a big smile and great attitude from them. Don’t expect all Japanese people to be nice. Some of them can be rude. When you bargain, pay attention to their attitude. Just move on when you see that the seller is not a very nice person, or you’ll just end up wasting your time. With very nice people who agree to sell you good stuff at cheap prices, buy more from them if they have something else you like.
Don’t have too much expectation when you go to flea markets, since you might not find what you’re looking for the first time. Come back a few more times and you might get lucky. Sometimes you can buy a lot of good stuff, sometimes you can’t buy anything, but it’s worth the trip. You can buy 10 pieces of clothes or furniture with ¥1000-¥2000 yen, while at big store you can only buy one piece. Remember to check the weather before you go, since flea markets are canceled on rainy days.