|Spanish Rastro or Flea Market|
Hunting for 'Flea Markets' in Spain
You may not have noticed but guide books and travel blogs about Spain are rather quiet when it comes to buying vintage and second-hand goods. There's a wealth of information about 'flea markets' in other European cities like Paris, London, Berlin and Amsterdam, but apart from a couple of markets in Madrid and Barcelona, information about shopping for antiquities and vintage items in Spain is veryy scarce.
I lived and worked in Spain for eight years. I'm a professional photographer, traveler and a collector. I collect vintage books, magazines and maps, cameras, pocket knives, fishing tackle, musical instruments and fountain pens. I could probably think of a few other things, but this gives you an idea about my shopping preferences.Wandering around thrift stores, car boot sales or flea markets is an essential experience for me, therefore flea and antique markets, and pre-owned goods stores are big pull when choosing a particular city to visit.
Most guide books will point you in the right direction for flea markets, but when visiting Spain the word to remember is Rastro which has several meanings, one of which is flea market. With the exception of "El Rastro" in Madrid, which is a large street market, most rastros in Spain are nothing like flea markets we know, but are in fact small stores run by volunteers with profits donated to charity. They sell anything and everything including clothes, furniture, garden tools and ornaments, paintings, posters, magazines, toys and games, shop and industrial fittings. Nothing is restored but it's usually in good condition, or at least repairable, and everything is uniquely Spanish - with the occasional surprise from Morocco!
Rastros spring up and start trading in any building that offers shelter and security. You'll find that rastros in old houses tend to specialise in clothes and house items, while rastros in industrial units tend to offer larger items of furniture, old shop fittings and stock, plus bicycles and car parts.
You can get a lot for your euros in a rastro. Generally items are priced from a couple of euros, to around fifty euros upwards, for items of furniture. Clothes tend to be priced between five and ten euros, depending on style and quality. Bargaining is normal - but don't be too pushy.
How to find a Rastro?
Every town in Spain has at least one rastro (they are growing in popularity as Spaniards are coming round to the idea of vintage chic) and the larger cities all have several. But they rarely advertise, relying instead in word of mouth. Fortunately, Spanish people are friendly and will go out of their way help, so just make enquiries. Ask in the local town hall, police station, shop or bar and you'll be given directions. Or ask a taxi driver and and let them take you.