A loppemarked (literally translated to flea market) is exactly that- A huge assortment of items for sale that you would find in any typical home. In the US, most of the flea markets I’ve seen are run out of a fixed location and operated seasonally by people make their living from the flea market as well as those who want to make money off their wares. In Norway, flea markets are quite different. They are basically huge yard sales organized by an organization, usually a school, that gets a lot of volunteers to help over a weekend. The volunteers are usually kids and other adults who are designated by a bright reflective vest. The proceeds usually go to the organization and the items are donated from members of the community. We’ve been told by several people that loppemarkeds in Norway usually happen in either the fall or the spring and they are great places to buy used skiing equipment.
We’ve been to three loppemarkeds so far and the kids and I love them. At them you can find separate areas for toys, clothes for men, women, and children, sports equipment (skis, skates, bikes, you name it), appliances, housewares, and picture. Since everything is donated and run by volunteers, everything tends to be very cheap.
I come from a family which takes some pride on being frugal or at least finding good deals on purchases which, as John will attest, has manifested itself in my life as being unwilling to spend money on much of anything. (In fact, I remember as a girl being quite pleased with gifts from my grandfather’s brother (who was by no means poor) from his regular dumpster diving trips.)
My work in sustainability has only strengthened this impulse as I see every purchase as having a large amount of negative consequences for both people and our planet both up and down the supply chain as well as the waste of the product being discarded once it is no longer needed. Add to all of that the fact that we are in Norway where everything is at least 50% more expensive than the US and the fact that we literally can not bring home more items than those we brought here, my aversion to buying anything new here has only strengthened. Despite or perhaps because of all of this, I love shopping at loppemarked’s especially because there are quite a few things most Norwegian’s have for the winter that we simply didn’t bring from the states. Since the burden of both the cost and the guilt of the environmental impact of the item has been born (mostly) by someone else I don’t mind buying a low cost item that will not only help our family enjoy the winter here, but also benefits the school where we bought the item, and in April will benefit the international school’s loppemarked (which I’ve already signed up to help with and will happily donate everything we can’t carry with us back to the states). Anyway, here are a few purchases we’ve made so far at the loppemarked’s:
- Toys (at two loppemarked’s we allowed Maddie and Ada to pick out one toy which cost a total of $2 which totally made their day.) I went to one this past weekend by myself to do a little Christmas shopping and came back with a large bag of toys for $30 which made my day.
- Skis- we bought cross country skis, boots and poles for all four of us and downhill skis for me all for $200.
- Ice Skates- So far we have ice skates for me, Maddie and John bought for $40 total.
- Sled- $6
- Norwegian Waffle maker (we’ve been making Norwegian waffles every weekend since and they are amazing) and hand blender stick/whisk (for warm winter soups)- $30