Greece: The rise of the flea market

Buying and selling secondhand has been taboo in Greece for a long time, however the market is on the rise in recent years amid a series of crises, according to experts and retailers.

Thrift stores started springing up like mushrooms in the wake of the financial crisis (2008-2018) that shrank the average disposable income of Greeks by 25 percent, they told Xinhua in recent interviews.

The pandemic gave a boost to online purchases, from clothing to furniture and electric appliances as well, while the new energy crisis and inflationary pressure, combined with growing concern about the climate crisis, strengthened this shift in the behavior of Greek consumers, they explained.

It will take more than two years for the current economic situation to get better, said the 67.3 percent of respondents in the latest survey of, a classifieds platform linking secondhand buyers and sellers in Greece in the past five years.

“One out of three respondents stated that selling things they don’t need anymore to make some extra money actually is a good way to tackle the inflation,” Kimon Tousmanof, Head of Marketing at, said.

“Greeks not only start seeing that buying and selling secondhand has financial benefits, but they also see the environmental benefits of the whole thing,” Tousmanof said.

According to the survey of more than 800 people and published in late August, 49 percent of people in Greece turn to the secondhand market to save money, 15 percent for variety and uniqueness and 10 percent out of concern for the environment.

“We’ve been seeing a trend going on these past years in Greece that Greeks are embracing more and more second-hand buying and selling. And it’s estimated that until 2025 the market, the industry of second-hand buying and selling will double in size (compared to pre-pandemic levels),” Tousmanof said.

Eight out of ten Greeks are looking for bargains and half have purchased one secondhand item within three months, showed another survey conducted by local polling firm Focus Bari earlier this year among over 6,000 people. registered a 40-45 percent increase in traffic during the pandemic. And the market is also growing offline.

Tatyana Todorova, a Bulgarian who moved to Greece in 2007, owns a secondhand/vintage store in central Athens since 2015. Her family was in the secondhand market for nearly 30 years back home.

Since the financial crisis, she sees Greeks flocking to her store and more and more such stores opening across Athens.

“More and more people realize we shouldn’t constantly buy new clothes. Not only for financial reasons but also for quality and environmental protection,” Todorova said.

“Among my customers are people who are wealthy and interested in the quality of garments. Many of them are seeking vintage clothing from the 70s-90s,” she told Xinhua.

Eleni Gerontaki is one of those clients. She doesn’t like fast fashion.

“I never buy synthetic clothes. Always made of cotton or viscose, good quality fabric, and I find it here. Do you know how many beautiful items I discovered? Fine products and very affordable,” she said. ■

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