When I first came to Switzerland, I imagined spending all my time in Brockis, which are second-hand shops, and the closest they come to charity shops here. I’m a great charity shopper when I’m in England, but since charity shops are generally fairly small, you’re not in danger of coming away with a car-full. The Brockis here are much larger, and consequently you lose (a) much more time, (b) much more money, (c) much more flat space.
However, I much prefer to go into these places than to go into big shops full of stuff that is pumped out for this season, and expected to go into landfill by the next to make way for the next lot. Living in a finite planet can only work if we have a stuff cycle that involved re-using old stuff. I love pretty, new (to me) stuff as much as (and probably more than) the next person, but I get much more of a kick out of something that has been (to use a horrendous, tired cliché) loved before. (See my kitchen table, below.) It also means that I buy things that have already survived for a while, and are probably better quality than things I might buy new. And I am more inclined to keep hold of them than toss them aside and pick up the newest trend (which I imagine could be quite a problem if I only took Pinterest seriously.)
Since my flat’s quite small, I’ve had to really keep a handle on my brocki shopping. It’s really rather lucky that there’s only one big one within striking distance (by foot) of my flat. So these posts about Brocki shopping are proving fewer and farther between than I originally intended. But for the sake of my living space, that’s how it has to be.
A while ago I was running out of storage space for things that need to be to hand, like the iron (which after my recent spate of sewing madness has been mostly sitting out on the floor for a while now.) I had a little bedside cupboard type thing next to the sofa with the lamp on. A couple of months ago I went out in search of something bigger to replace it. In a big old Brocki crammed with vastly overpriced stripped pine furniture we found a big solid wood (possibly walnut) cupboard squeezed in between some hideous pine wardrobes, and piled with boxes and bags of assorted stuff. I was convinced the price tag would be ridiculous, going on the rest of the prices, but the owner’s tastes were clearly contrary to mine, he thought it was a unattractive, undesirable old thing that he wouldn’t want in his house (which, coincidentally, is what I thought of the wardrobes that he clearly spend a good deal of time stripping of varnish or paint or any charming features that might have once made them unique. Well we are all different, I was very happy to take it off his hands for a (Swiss) song.
The red tag in the door I replaced with a little handle that I picked up in one of those darkened shops strung with Indian tapestries, with tables of glass beads, decorated tiles, and, yes, door knobs.
I’m really happy with it, it fits in well with the rest of my flat, although it’s just, only just not too big. Keeping the top clear is another matter, that’s a problem with all surfaces in my flat, it doesn’t always look as tidy as this:
In another brocki, I found this little red folding chair. It needed a bit of a clean-up, but it was worth it. Although I intend to give it a coat of red paint to freshen it up a bit at some point.
(The table didn’t come from a brocki, it was my grandparents, they got it when they were married, and it stayed in their kitchen until we cleared their house a couple of years ago. It survived my father and his brother and sister’s childhood. I had to give it a good clean-up as a result of this (with much help,) a good going-over with sandpaper and a coat of linseed-based oil. It’s doing very well, supporting my laptop as I type this, serving another generation.)
Before we went to Italy, there were a few things we needed. We could have gone to shops specially for the things that we were after, but I, a bit artlessly, insisted that we should look in brockis. And the first one we went to (indeed, the only one that wasn’t on holiday,) came up trumps, with this sweet little folding table that fitted perfectly behind the seats in the “camepr” van, and reminds me of the easy-wipe-down tables we had at playgroup (please excuse the rubbish bag!)
When we were talking to the owner about our holiday plans, he presented us with a car fridge that was much better than the one we already had (albeit not really up to the job of withstanding the Italian heat when left parked up and therefore off in a sunny parking place somewhere in central Italy… But we somehow managed to avoid food poisoning!)
Strictly speaking, this didn’t come from a brocki, but from a Flohmarkt, (which translates as flea market, but this particular one was more of a jumble sale from someone’s house,) it was hanging on a street sign next to one of the tables.
It’s a really simple but clever construction, the wings are on pins so that they flap in the wind, but are so long that they counter the weight of the body and return to horizontal when he’s finished flying.
A couple of little things I picked up recently: a nice wooden darning egg (so far I’ve been using a lightbulb, which made me a bit nervous when I want to take it outside the flat.
And some lovely vintage handkerchiefs. Can’t beat a pretty hankie.