Friday, April 15, 2011

Thrifters Around the World: Kimberly's Thrifting From France to Germany

[Kimberly and her beautiful home in Germany. She writes the blog]

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Kimberly: I am 43 years old. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and moved to Norway in 1993 to be with my Norwegian husband. We are temporarily living in Germany for my husband’s work. I love photography, traveling, cooking, and fixing up old things. I started to keep myself out of trouble while in Germany.

When and why did you start thrifting? 

In my 20s I started liking things with character. I felt like new things did not have any “soul”.

Can you briefly describe your garage sale hunting in Minnesota? 

After a Saturday trip to the Farmers Market in Minneapolis, we would follow the signs for garage sales, weaving our way back to suburbia. The older homes in the city always yielded more interesting objects than new homes in the ‘burbs.

What makes thrifting in other countries (like Germany, Norway, France, and the Netherlands) different than thrifted in the United States?

It is definitely easier to find sales in the States, great signage and predictability, but other than that; thrifting is pretty much the same.

What terms from around the world have you encountered for "thrifting"? 

Flea market in German and Dutch is Flohmarkt, in Norwegian it is Loppemarket. All are literal translations but I have still never found a flea!

Have you encountered a dumpster diving/curb-side shopping culture in any of the places in the world you've thrifted? 

Curb shopping was alive and well in Minneapolis and when I was an Au Pair in London there was a lot of talk about reclaiming road side trash. I remember several programs from the BBC about just that, but that would NEVER happen in Norway or Germany.

You have been thrifting in Germany, Norway, France, Italy, and the Netherlands! Which country is your favorite place to thrift? 

As a Francophile, I would definitely say France! They have such beautiful linens and simply elegant things.

Out of all the places, you have lived in and visited, which one has the biggest second hand/thrift/craft culture? 

I think the US and Germany are fighting for top position, Germans with their flea markets and Americans with garage sales.

What is the second-hand shopping scene like in Norway? 

As the nouveau riche of Europe, Norwegians enjoy showing off their newly gained wealth. I have heard stores of people inheriting from older family members and burning furniture for firewood. They have a heart-breaking lack of appreciation for the value of things older than they are, but I think that is changing with the younger generation.

What would you typically find at the church flea markets and The Salvation Army thrift shops in Norway? 

You see a lot of teak furniture, Apartment Therapy followers would be in 7th heaven.

What is thrifting in Germany like? 

Wonderful! Everything is cheap. I can pick up vases and knick-knacks for 50 cents, which is about 3 Norwegian Kroner. You cannot buy anything in Norway for 3 kroner so I have a blast at the flea market!

How about thrifting in the Netherlands? 

There are some great thrift shops in the “nine streets” of Amsterdam. The shops have a great mix of old and new. Check out Juffrow Splinter and Raw Materials.

How would you describe the flea markets in France (are they expensive)? 

The antique markets in l’isle sur la Sorgue are notoriously overpriced but not expensive compared to Norwegian prices. We came across a local flea market in Mazan last year and I came away with Depression glass molded candlesticks for 5 euros, both the seller and I were very pleased with this price.

Have you encountered stigmas against second hand shopping during your worldwide thrifting adventures?

I think baby boomers have the strongest opinion about used items and old things. I notice in Norway that many things I treasure are considered junk, but to each his own. I love the character and charm that my thrifting gives our home.

Surprise Giveaway:  Kimberly is hosting a giveaway to go along with this interview! The prize is a copy of  The Flea Markets of France, by Sandy Price. visit her site for a chance to win!


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)
[3/08/2011] Switcheroom's Elle From the Philippines
[3/16/2011] eLousion's Cindy From Puerto Rico
[3/30/2011] Ashleigh's Thrifting Tales from Taiwan and Tokyo
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. I'm surprised she lists the US as having the largest thrift culture......go USA! :-)

  2. Yes indeed! According to past interviews, thrifters in the USA are in vintage paradise!

  3. It's true, Minneapolis is huge on curb side thrift. People here are constantly setting neat things outside with free signs.

    I envy Kimberly though! How lucky to thrift in so many stylish European just imagining it!

  4. That is good news. But she has some really sweet thrifting finds!

  5. Great interview! It really makes me want to visit Europe again! I love reading this series, Van =D

  6. Flo: I definitely want to visit Europe again, too! This was an excellent interview!

  7. Kimberly I love how you decorated your home! Can you tell us more about the unusual hall table? Van great interview too!

    1. I am so sorry I didn't see your comment. It is actually a carpenters bench that we rescued from an estate. I had seen a piece in Remodelista that inspired me. (7th pic down) So when we saw the bench I knew we had to save it from the dumpster.

  8. Nice inside, I love to learn about french n germany thrift culture. This was another great read.

  9. Great post! Beautiful finds! I'm off to check out her blog :-)

  10. so interesting!i love the table in the last photograph - her home is absolutely beautiful. great blog too. thanks, van, once again a fascinating post!

  11. I'm off to Italy in the next week or so and would love to hear from anyone who has any good tips for interesting flea markets they have visited in Italy


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

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