Cologne’s neighbourhood yard and garden sales
Flea markets are a dream come true for people who love browsing and collecting items at knock-down prices – a truly sustainable form of shopping. I’ve been a regular flea market goer for years; in fact it’s where I buy most of my clothes (check out my article on Cologne’s best flea markets). The atmosphere is usually very laid-back, you can barter to your heart’s content and there’s ample opportunity for a friendly chat between shopper and vendor.
If you like the personal touch, you’ll love Cologne’s yard and garden sales, because they take place literally in residents’ backyards and gardens. Compared to the classic flea markets, though, because they’re dotted around the city these events offer the added benefit of experiencing the colourful, loveable Veedel (Cologne dialect for neighbourhoods) of Cologne through the eyes of their residents. In other words, they’re an adventure tour and shopping trip all rolled into one.
But how do you find these private backyards and gardens which, on any other day, are closed off and/or marked “Do not enter”? Well, that’s easy: there’s a map (downloadable from www.hofflohmaerkte.de/koeln/) on which all markets are marked with a dot so you can put together your own personal shopping safari.
By the way, the concept was born in the US sometime in the 1970s – you’ll have certainly heard the term “garage sale” or “yard sale” used in a movie or TV show, right? It took another 20 years or so until the idea crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Germany.
The schedule for Cologne lists numerous yard and garden sales across the city. To make sure you don’t miss any of the upcoming dates, put them in your diary using this helpful list: