Tuesday, April 7

How To Unearth Great Finds From Ukay-Ukay

In the Philippines, the flea market is popularly called the Ukay-Ukay because of what buyers needed to do ("ukay" which means dig) to find what they wanted or needed and buy the items at low, low prices. The merchandise may vary from clothes, shoes, bags, and even pillows and curtains. Many of them are secondhand or discarded merchandise from famous stores.

What's really great about these flea markets is that buyers get to buy branded and often genuine merchandise at really low prices (some as low as 5 pesos or 1/10 of a dollar if you know how to haggle well).

Here are some tips on digging up that perfect blouse or a genuine label from the pile of ukay-ukay clothing:

1. Look for labels or tags and check whether the logos or insignias look genuine. You must acquaint yourself with both genuine and counterfeit branding.

2. Some tags may be genuine but were torn. So the next best thing to do is check the threads whether they were sewn professionally and efficiently. Real brands make sure the quality of threading is at par with standards to prevent wear and tear so soon after purchase.

3. Check for the quality of material. Some counterfeit items use low quality textile or material. You may want to consider for what purpose you are going to use the item (i.e. dress, blouse, shirt or skirt). If you need it for formal gatherings, then check the quality of material, embroidery and the buttons or zippers used. If it's for summer outings or for everyday use, make sure the material is appropriate for the beach or the office or the house.

4. Haggle efficiently. Some hawkers are pliable. They will give you items for as low as 5 pesos if they think noone will buy the merchandise anymore. Some of these guys often have quotas and may need to sell all of the stock for new ones to be displayed.

This cycle of selling, discounting and opening new stock is often seen in almost all Magarbo stores which sells inexpensive clothes that still look new. A hundred pesos (or 2 dollars) for each item is very affordable.

5. Make sure to "hunt" and not "explore." This kind of mentality is often displayed whenever bargain hunters are around. The best items are one-of-a-kind. If you aren't quick enough, you lose.

These are just a few tips to remember whenever you find yourself in an ukay-ukay market where the best merchandise can be bought for pennies. Unfortunately, the vendors do not sell wholesale ("pakyaw").

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