One of my all-time Edinburgh favourites for a spot of bargain hunting.
Thrifting, vintage shopping, antique hunting – whatever you want to call it, I’ve always been intrigued by all things retro, from clothes to curiosities and collectables. Some people just seem to have the knack – or luck – and apparently come across rare tea sets for pennies, perfect vintage Ferragamo’s that actually fit, and Singer sewing machines in mint condition.
I’m by no means a thrifting expert, but with a bit of determination, a few strategies in mind (and a lot of trial and error) I’ve had a wee bit more luck of late. Aside from the obvious tips and tricks – going often, searching off the beaten track and just having a good ol’ rummage – I have a (not so) secret weapon: Edinburgh’s Out of the Blue Flea Market.
Once a month, Edinburgh’s Drill Hall (on Dalmeny St, just off Leith Walk) is transformed into a veritable Aladdin’s cave, bursting with vintage treasures. With over 45 stalls filled to the brim with antiques, furniture, vintage clothing, jewellery, bric-a-brac and homewares there’s really something for everyone, with a great variety of sellers who do a lot of the hard work for you.
From the unusual and kitsch (dog baskets, cat-themed trinkets) to the covetably retro-chic (typewriters, sewing machines), you never know what hidden gems you might unearth – and often bargains to boot, think charity shop prices rather than antique ones. It’s well worth a rummage, so be bold and get stuck in for a good rake around. Many of the sellers have boxes of goodies tucked away underneath their stalls too so have a good look around, then get in and dig! (When you’re getting ready to go out, it’s worth remembering you’ll want to do this, so think practical with your outfit, and bring a couple of tote bags just in case – two things I forgot to do on my last trip, oops).
It’s worth checking out every stall and section, and keeping an open mind as you never know what you’ll come across tucked away in those rails and boxes. You’ve got to be quick too, as the real gems don’t stick around for long. On our last trip one of the first things I spotted on entering the hall was a beautiful burgundy vintage bag in perfect condition – and when I found out it was just £5 I snapped it up straight away, knowing it wouldn’t hang around for long. On my way round the Drill Hall, a couple of the sellers even told me they’d had their eye on it too. Phew! I’ll be sure to share some pictures of it in an outfit post soon.
The Drill Hall is a large space, but it’s soon filled up with the fab stalls, sellers and bargain hunters – so I’d recommend getting there as early as you can, and definitely try to beat the lunchtime rush! As it’s a family-orientated venue there are a lot of kids around, so there’s not the same jostling, competitive atmosphere you can get at other markets though this means it can get a bit busy with prams and pets later on. The Drill Hall is definitely one of the best market venues I’ve visited as it’s just so bright and light – there’s nothing worse than trying to hunt out those bargains somewhere dark and dingy.
Out of the Blue is an inspiring arts and education trust and the Drill Hall itself is a fantastic community space – the historic military building was transformed into an arts and cultural centre back in 2004, and includes artists’ studios, rehearsal and performance arenas and exhibition spaces too. It’s well worth keeping an eye on what’s going on at the Drill Hall and Out of the Blue’s venues around Edinburgh. They have some great events throughout the year (In Your Face Theatre are presenting an immersive production of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting soon, which sounds brilliant).
I’d definitely recommend a post-thrifting pit-stop at the Drill Hall Arts Café too – they have a great selection of snacks and eats, with yummy homemade soups and Lovecrumbs brownies. Again try to avoid peak times as it’s not the biggest space and there can be a bit of a wait, a mistake we made last time. Al had giant beans on toast and I had the Shakshuka, washed down with Fentiman’s rose lemonade – delicious.
The flea market takes place on the last Saturday of every month so the next edition is today from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. with a mini flea running alongside the Radical Book Fair, and next month there are not one but two flea markets on the 2nd and 30th November. If you’re in Edinburgh then I seriously recommend a trip; even if you come away empty-handed it’s a joy just to look.
Have you got a favourite vintage or flea market? Any thrifting tips or recent finds?