One of the greatest challenges for students, especially those living abroad, is learning to manage their finances carefully. From buying groceries to paying tuition fees, rents and monthly transportations, we all have to attentively budget our funds for both essential payments and emergencies.
That being said, shopping can still be a stress-free and joyful experience without breaking our piggy banks. I have put together a simple guide to second-hand shopping to help you find the best deals and make the most of your euros while you are in Finland.
Shopping second-hand is very popular in Finland since it is an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way of living. However, thrifting can be quite tiring and overwhelming if you have never done it before. Knowing what you look for and where you can find it is essential to thrifting when you first move to Finland. Second-hand shops and flea markets can be found in almost every town in Finland.
In Finnish, thrift stores are “kirppis” or “kirpputori”. You can easily search the addresses of these on Google. Most stores in Finland have their information on the internet, some even have info in English, Swedish and other languages. I highly recommend that you read online first to know their basic information about the stores and see what kinds of products the store offers, so that you can plan your trip accordingly.
Every store is different
The greatest joy of thrifting is not knowing what you are going to find at the stores! Every thrift shop is different from one another, even when they belong to the same operator. For instance, UFF is one of the largest second-hand store chains in Finland. They are easily recognized with their black and yellow signature brand in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, etc.
UFF recycles clothes and household items, and the profits go directly to donation. The items are donated by people and organizations, and UFF weeds out the unusable items before putting them on sale.
Another popular option is the individual municipal recycling centers or “kierrätyskeskus” and “ekotori”. Depending on where you live, the recycling centers might work differently.
In Turku, for instance, Turun Ekotori is a very popular option among students and local people. They have two large stores with almost everything essential for your everyday life: from washing machines to bed frames, bicycles to kitchen stuff.
Every product is checked carefully before being put on sale, and the stores have specialized mechanics and handymen to help fix or adjust if one needs help. Depending on what you buy, there are also guarantees for a certain period of time. Turun Ekotori is known among students not only for their excellent services, but also for the 20% student discount.
The local “kirppis”
The second-hand stores run by individuals are also my favorite. I love to visit local kirppis when I visit a new town, since those shops are usually located at off-the-beaten path locations.
Local secondhand shops have a unique charm that you can’t find in the city-centered mega shopping malls. You never know what you will find on these “scavenger hunting” adventures.
In general, there are two kinds of kirppis. The first one is more or less the same as in a recycling center, where items are placed in groups, and the store is organized in certain orders: from clothes to furniture, from different kinds of sofas to different kinds of tables, etc. They have the same policy for almost all items, which means they may have guarantees, shipping or return policies.
The second type is more special, since the store is simply an indoor flea-market where sellers rent their personal places. Each booth is rented by individuals, where they display whatever they have for sale.
The owner of the store is not necessarily the owner of the stuff; therefore, each stall is arranged in a completely different order. When shopping at this type of store, it is strongly recommended that you check the items carefully before placing them in your shopping cart. Once the item is taken away from its original booth, it is quite a daunting task to find the correct booth if you change your mind later on!
Another thing to keep in mind is be careful while checking or trying on the stuff, and do not lose the items’ price or info tags. Once the tag is lost, it is impossible to check out the item without the original seller there.
Flea markets online are also quite popular, especially among international students. Do remember to search on Facebook with phrases like “flea market” or “kirppis” with the city or town where you live. You’ll probably find some groups alike. It is recommended to shop with caution in those groups, since it is unlikely there would be someone to guarantee the products’ prices or qualities.
To sum up, thrift shopping is a fun and inexpensive leisure activity, even though it’s certainly not the most efficient way of shopping. Sometimes you bring home great deals at delightful prices, sometimes there is nothing worth buying.
Most of the essential items like home furniture, kitchen stuff, books or even bicycles can be bought second-hand. They can last for a long time still if you treat them with care, so don’t be hesitant to try thrift shopping when you are in Finland!
Learn more about studying in Finland
Finland University serves as a gateway to one of the finest Finnish multidisciplinary Universities on offer. If you are interested in studying in Finland and would like to find out more, the downloadable Finland University guide provides a quick starting package about how to apply for International Master’s Degree Programmes and Scholarships at the member universities of Finland University.
Interested? Download the guide and learn more!