The event offered everything from used clothes, shoes, and jewelry to,kitchen tools and other household knickknacks at prices ranging from a mere VND 1,000 – 2,000, to VND 400,000 for more valuable items.
Most of the sellers only wished to clear their homes to get ready for the upcoming Christmas and New Year season, hence the low prices.
“Who doesn’t have used stuff at home? Bringing such items here can open up space in our own storage while allowing us to make a small amount of money. Plus, what we no longer need may be more useful to others,” Huong, a seller from Ba Dinh, Hanoi said.
Shoppers like Phuong Vy were no less happy, as they knew that, with just a little bit of patience and luck, they could dig up a good deal out of the piles of secondhand goods.
“I have this thing for kitchen tools, and I never feel bad buying more of them. I have just bought this brand new porcelain bowl set here at half its original price,” Vy said with a content smile.
Garage sales or bazaars like this are still new to Vietnam, although they have a much longer history and cultural significance in the US, where they originated. They are called ‘garage sales’ because people pack everything they want to sell into their home garage and simply let people do their shopping there.
Unlike in the US, Vietnam’s “garage sales” almost never take place in a private home garage or backyards. Usually a number of sellers gather together and are forced to rent a convenient place to display their goods.
Since a renting fee is included, many sellers opt for cheap venues, as the sale is not profit – oriented.
“We also have to find places located on busy streets or neighborhoods to attract more customers,” Huyen Trang, a member of the organizing committee for Lamchame’s sale event shared.
These special “markets” are becoming more popular among young Vietnamese who are turning to a more environmentally – friendly, financially sensible lifestyle amidst the country’s depressing economic condition.
However “It is not a business activity for us. It is more like a weekend leisure event where we can all meet, hang out, and save money by buying used stuff while helping the buyers too,” Thu Trang, another member of Lamchame’s event shared.
In the end, the successful sellers made up to VND 4 – 5 million from their booth, while less lucky ones earned only VND 700,000 – 800,000.
In Ho Chi Minh, sale events where old and used good are exchanged or sold are not rare, as many local youth organizations, such as the Tan Binh Youth Union, or university clubs, participate in such activities to promote a green and eco-friendly lifestyle among their members.
Hien Pooh, an editor at Saigon Tiep Thi Newspaper, is known for her regular “garage sale” events which often feature women’s clothes, shoes, jewelry and accessories.
After starting with her own huge wardrobe at first, Hien now receives goods from her friends and colleagues to sell in her events with a 10 percent commission per item.
“I am doing this as a personal hobby, not for any profit,” she shared.
Every two to three months, Hien gathers all the items she has, spreads the news on her Facebook page, rents a venue, and sets up booths for the sale.
Hien has a vast customer base, which has expanded from her close friends and colleagues to random Facebook users who visit Sale For Fun, a Facebook page she created for the event.
“I am planning to have another sale in mid-December, but I haven’t been able to find a suitable location yet,” Hien lamented.