Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thrifters Around The World: Elle From The Philippines

[I love Elle's interior design blog, Switcheroom. She designs blogs, too.]

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Elle.

I'm a freelance graphic / web designer and decor lover from Manila Philippines. But since we're going to talk about thrifting, I should say here that I'm very proud to call myself CHEAP. Not in the slutty kind of way of course. :)

When and why did you start thrifting?

When: I started thrifting when I discovered tons of ukay-ukay stores (clothing thrift shops) in Baguio City. It's about a 6 hour drive from where I live, and I make it a point that I hit the shops when we visit Baguio. That was around 8 years ago. Now, we have lots of thrift shops here in Manila as well.

Why: Just because I find joy in searching racks upon racks of clothes to find amazing pieces.

[Thrift store (ukay-ukay)  in the Philippines. Image Source: Pinay Shopper]

What makes thrifting in the Philippines different than thrifting in the United States?

The only time I tried thrifting in the US was at Goodwill, so I can't say much about the difference since I haven't had much experience in your part of the world. I think the BIG difference is when it comes to furniture thrift shops. I'm always amazed when I see stuff US bloggers find on craigslist, garage sales, and thrift shops. I'm green with envy!

 [Check out Elle's Cute "Wall Stamping" Idea: I might have to steal this one!]

We don't have much second hand furniture shops here that carry items with great bones on a very cheap price. There's some "Japan Surplus" shops where they have old furniture from Japan sold here, but it's still quite expensive!

What are the names and nick-names for "thrifting" in the Philippines?

We call our clothing thrift shops here Ukay-Ukay. I think (not really sure) it derives from the word hukay, which means dig.

Is there a large thrifting/junking/second-hand shopping culture where you live?

There are a growing number of personal online shops that sell second-hand clothes. It's for people who don't have the time or patience to dig though all the loads of stuff to find the great ones. They sell it with a good mark-up but still cheap. Those who buy knows for a fact that it's thrifted, and still patronize it because of all the unique goodies they find.

 [See Elle's Dramatic Secretary Before & After]

Is there a stigma against second-hand shopping in the Philippines? Is it seen as dirty?

There's always people who will find it dirty or gross, but the majority embrace the culture. You can always wash and re-wash it until you're perfectly happy, but you can't find a Marc Jacobs top for less than P50 (around $1) anywhere else. Like I did. :)

Are there any flea markets in the Philippines? What are they like?

I don't know any flea markets here like the one in the US. The only one I know is at Bangkal, Makati, where there are strips of second-hand furniture shops around the area. Most of the shops have good vintage items with lots of intricate details, and crystal chandeliers! I love it! But as for the price point, it's a lot cheaper than store bought, but still not flea-market-cheap. (For my wallet that is!)

Are there many dumpster divers and curb-side shoppers in your area and beyond?

No, we don't have that here (not that I know of). I guess the reason for this is we don't move around often that there's no need to leave stuff that doesn't fit! and we usually use stuff until it's even barely standing, or give it to friends or relatives.

 [See Elle's Simple Chair Re-do]

What are thrift stores like in the Philippines?

It really differs. There are those huge well-lit stores, and there are those little nasty ones.

Where do people do their second-hand hunting in the Philippines?

For clothing, it's at Ukay-ukay stores, hands down. As for decor stuff, I guess at Japan Surplus and Bangkal. We also have Sulit, a free online ad site, but it doesn't even compare to Craigslist! Though I recently found a secretary desk, and a pair of lamps that will have a place in my bedroom when I'm done refinishing them (See her post here).

[Elle's thrifty Bedroom Gallery Wall]

Where is your favorite place to thrift? The United States? The Philippines? Elsewhere?

For clothes, I love to shop here. But for furniture, even if I haven't tried it yet, definitely the US. If only I can fit chairs in my luggage when I visit US. :)

Afterword: Thanks Van for inviting to be part of your series. I can't wait to see how other countries do their thrifting, this will be interesting! And for any Filipino readers, if you know any flea markets / second-hand furniture shops here in Manila, please, I beg you, tell me! :)

* * *

If you would like to be featured in Thrifters Around the World, shoot me an e-mail. I would love your feedback on this new segment, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Past Thrifters Around The World Interviews:

[3/01/2011] Thrifting Pro Miss P From the UK (Part II)
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. I follow Switcheroom too, love it! Great hearing all about the thrifting culture in such an exotic location :-)

  2. Love the thrifting around the world posts!

  3. I also loves the thrifting around the world fun posts

  4. I stayed in Baguio for a month a few years a go, but never went to a thrift store. Hopefully next time I'll get a chance to 'cause you found some great things. :)

  5. Love this new feature! How interesting to read about thrifting in other places around the world. Those bright green hangers are really eye-catching. I kinda wish we had those here, too.

  6. Van, I love this! And thanks Elle for sharing your thrifting treasures.

  7. this is absolutely amazing! Glad to see this is a trend around the world! I'm totally intrigued now, thank you.

  8. Thanks Van for including me in this fun series of yours! Looking forward to seeing more of thrifting from other culture.. :)

  9. Really loving this series!! :)

  10. A lot of thrift stores are worth visiting where you can find a unique item.

  11. I am a big fan of Switcheroom, I always enjoy reading her posts and seeing what she has put together next, this looks like a great blog and I look forward to visiting on a regular basis.


  12. Pilipinas, represent! :) Great post! Way back when I was still in the Philippines, I would actually never consider buying anything second-hand. But now, I'm head-over-heels in love with thrifting! Glad to know many others are embracing this idea now.

  13. Still, lots of people here in the PH here think thrifting is gross and it's nice to find Pinays who think otherwise :)
    It feels great when you get to have those great items at such a low cost, it's also a plus when they're branded!
    Sharing one part of my thrift finds :)


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  18. I like the furniture designs what you have kept in your room. I liked the way you have decorated the entire room.

  19. weeeee! so glad i found this post! i did a lot of japan surplus shopping on my fairly new blog (7 months), and i have to say, the price of wares went extremely low as compared to year 2011! a totally different story on ukay-ukay or thrift stores though. most thrift stores in my area are getting a little too "optimistic" with their prices. thanks, Van for the inspirations.


I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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