Thrifting in Beijing

While we were in Beijing we went through thrifting withdrawal.  We didn’t see any western-style thrift stores in the city, but everyone we spoke to mentioned the Panjiayuan Antique Market (潘家园).  The market is open all week, but apparently the “Arts and Crafts” zone is only open on weekends.  We got there at around 8:30am (the market apparently opens at 4am, but we weren’t that brave) and we were completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of people and vendors.  It was amazing!

This photo catches only a corner of the entire market.  We wandered up-and-down rows of sellers hawking jade, lacquer-ware, snuff bottles, porcelain, and much more.  Truth be told, Asian antiquities are hard to come by at markets such as these and since its not our forte, we decided to look instead of buy.

It was more difficult not to buy anything once we hit the book and record section of the market.  There were many sellers focusing on modern books, but a lot of people had Maoist posters, magazines, and ephemera.  There were also a surprising number of vintage LPs from the former Russia, Europe, and China too.  If only Scott had been with us!  I have a feeling he would have gone home with his hands full.

For any Westerners who want to visit the market and don’t speak Mandarin, you’ll want to bring a notepad and paper.  Most vendors will not speak any English, but they’ll understand Arabic numerals so if you want to haggle over prices (and you should definitely haggle), numbers will be your common language.  The sellers we encountered in the book section were not pushy at all.  We browsed many books and LPS and never once felt rushed.  Both of us had a great time at the market!


  1. Reply
    Selena Cate October 3, 2011

    Some of my favorite thrifting memories are thrifting abroad. I can’t imagine what it would be like to thrift in China until this post. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Reply
    Van October 4, 2011

    Beautiful photos, and this looks like so much fun to explore. Look at all those beautiful books!

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