Monday, April 29, 2013

Adventures in selling: The loppemarked at Cafe Retro

In an effort to raise some cash and clear my closets of lovely, yet rarely worn items, I decided to sell some clothes at the flea market at Cafe Retro. Unlike the popular ones that largely take place outside, this one was indoors, required only a small fee of 70kr, and sellers can use the tables, chairs, and random nails of the cafe to display their items instead of having to bring their own wardrobe racks. 

I figured the low investment would yield maximum profits and estimated how much I could make if I sold most of my items. I packed my large red suitcase full of the clothes and shoes that I loved for years and made my way to city center, hopeful that each garment would find an owner that loved them as much as I did.

So imagine my disappointment when I arrived and the first words I hear while I'm setting up were, "if it's a nice day, we're not going to get anyone in here. And today is supposed to be really nice." Fuck!

True to the speaker's words, a grand total of 20 people came, and three of them were my friends who came to show support. There would have been one more, but she went to the wrong location and brought a supportive latte to the Cafe Retro in Nørrebro (hi Sarah).

Don't we look busy?
To make matters worse, it was freaking hot. So hot that I actually fell asleep in my overstuffed chair. Also, my boyfriend pointed out that it was the end of the month, meaning that few people had cash that they would want to part with. 

The absolute worst part of the whole experience is the feeling of rejection when people don't want to buy the things that you think are great. I once told a worker at a dry cleaner that I loved my clothes the way people loved their children. And meant it. So I was saddened when the few people that did make their way to my section just looked and walked away without even trying something on. 

How can you not love a yellow suede dress?

I'm a chubby gal with a bountiful bosom and when another seller said that my DKNY coat was beautiful but that she would be swimming in it, I felt like Fatty McFatterson trying to sell a bunch of Walmart styled muumuus. My spirits were lifted when a woman whose cups also runneth over picked up a semi sheer black dress with white embroidery (shown in the first picture). But then hers were crushed when it became apparent that she had too much for the fabric to contain. 

In the end, I sold one dress for 40kr. And bought a Kelly styled handbag for 25. Add to that, the 70kr fee and I made a net loss of 55kr, more if you include transportation costs.

But all hope is not lost. I also signed up for the flea market at Studenterhuset which is much more popular. It's prime location near Stroget means that it sees much more foot traffic than Cafe Retro which is located on a side street close to Parliament. So wish me luck with this one. I'll be bringing a few more random items, including Roskilde supplies and some electronics. If anyone is interested in checking it out, details are available on Facebook

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring is here (finally)!

The ice cream trucks are rolling around and the sun is out (for the most part). For those who arrived in Denmark during the dark months of winter, you're in for a real treat.

When I first arrived, I thought there were few people actually in Copenhagen. Little did I know that everyone was simply hibernating in their nests. And then the sun came and brought with it a population explosion. The streets were buzzing with activity and even when the temperature barely reached double digits, the outdoor seating of cafes was finally put to use (with the help of fleece blankets). Even though the wool scarves are still in full swing and going outside without a jacket is just a fantasy, the bright sun (or suggestion of) is enough to seduce the Danes into leaving their caves and provides ample opportunities for free or low cost entertainment.

The free events are coming!

Everyone knows about the Copenhagen Jazz Festival and Distortion, but there are dozens of smaller ones that pop-up all over the city. The past weekend saw the 48 Hour Festival of Nørrebro as well as numerous weed related parties celebrating the smoker's holiday of 4-20. 

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The upcoming weeks will be filled with festivals, open-bars, club anniversaries, and free parties. I will try my best to post information that I find pertaining to Copenhagen nightlife. But as a word of advice, pay attention to the events your Facebook friends are going to as that is the best way of finding cool things to do. Copenhagen is terrible, simply terrible, at advertising the various events that the city hosts. I've often found out about an event AFTER it has taken place, usually by spotting a poster for it in an obscure location, like a lightpole on a bridge. 


The next big day that will be filled with free treats is Mayday, or known in every part of the word except the US as Labor Day. Fælledparken is the place to be with numerous artists taking the stage to celebrate workers' rights. Bring a grill and cheap beer from the nearest kiosk, the atmosphere will be BYOB barbecue with a touch of communism. For more information, check out the Facebook page.

Also, Mayday will give you the opportunity to attend a party at Culture Box for the low price of 25kr. Culture Box is largely regarded as one of Copenhagen's best clubs for electronic music and with a cover so low, you can afford to see if the rumors are true. More information available here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Free Opera Experience

 ©  Det Kongelige Teater
Today, guests can enjoy a free concert starting at 5:30, when Tenor Johnny van Hal sings Britten's The Holy Sonnets of John Donne in the foyer of the Opera House. 

The performance is part of a series of free cultural events hosted by the Royal Theater. Ranging from practice performances of the Royal Ballet to relaxed snippets of popular operas, The Royal Theater hosts a number of events which make the arts more accessible.

While today's event does not require registration, some do. For more information about this and future performances, check out the web page,  Det er gratis!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Survival Tip: Where the bargains are

Living in Denmark means that after rent, your greatest expense is food. And with fast food staples like McDonalds and KFC costing upwards of 100kr per meal, eating out everyday is simply not an option. But even if you try to eat in to save some cash, the price of groceries can vary widely. 

When I lived in Ørestad, the nearest shops were Bilka and DøgnNetto. Both seem like descent places to shop when you have nothing to compare it to. But Bilka is like the Costco of Denmark, only offering deals when you buy in bulk. Those ten, 500 gram bags of frozen vegetables for only 10kr each sounded like a great bargain. That was, until you got home and realized that your freezer can only hold 5 and there's no way you're going to eat the rest before they go bad. And you pay for the convenience of DøgnNetto's later opening hours with significantly higher prices.

Only when I moved to a more populated area that had several stores to choose from, including (normal) Netto, Rema 1000, Fotex, Fakta, and Irma did I realize how much I was being overcharged by living in a food desert. So here are two things I learned that helped to significantly reduce my grocery bill:


Like I said, prices vary from store to store and even week to week. So make use of the circulars that get stuffed into your mailbox.

Tilbuds are like my women's magazines, difference being, they offer information that helps instead of hurts my self-worth. I actually get excited when I see the shiny paper sticking out from the black boxes in my hallway. 

Did you know that the price of broccoli can be anywhere from 5kr to 12kr per head? Or that Netto and Fotex sometimes sells delicious Lurpak butter for only 10kr instead of 20kr? If you only stick to one store out of brand loyalty, you'll miss the amazing bargains offered elsewhere. Not to mention, stores like Aldi and Rema 1000 often sell non-food items, like name brand smart phones, for rock bottom prices. And this leads to my second recommendation,

Know your stores

Last week, Aldi (I think, but I'm not sure since I threw out my circular) was a selling a gigantic portable speaker system that was mp3 player compatible for only 300kr. For those planning on attending Roskilde, such an item would have been perfect. But how many of you would have thought to get your Roskilde supplies from Aldi or even Rema 1000 instead of Silvan? 

When the phone my friend gave me started to die (thanks Tandi), the first place I looked was NOT Elgiganten or any of the similar electronic or phone stores. I went to Bilka and bought an unlocked Samsung Galaxy mini for 500kr. Experience taught me that Bilka, Aldi, and sometimes Rema 1000 would sell phones at prices that rivaled those of American online retailers, minus shipping & handling. 

Knowing your stores means familiarizing yourself with their inventories and pricing schedules. For example, I stayed away from Irma for a long time since I assumed they were out of my price range. And they are, for the most part. But I've found that they are often cheaper than Netto or Fakta when it comes to certain produce. Their running price on avocados is 24kr for a bag of six. And the avocados usually range in ripeness, giving a few to use now, and a few that will ripen over the next few days. Plus, if you're lucky, you can find a sale on rotisserie chicken. 

Items in this picture appear much larger on my table

Depending on the day of the week, Irma will sell quarter chickens, two for 30kr. Stay away from the legs and go for the breasts. Each piece is almost one full breast and a wing, yielding enough meat for two servings per piece. Sure, you'll pay more than if you were to buy frozen chicken, but do you want to wait 20-30 minutes for it to cook?

One final word of caution. Just like I wrongly assumed that everything in Irma was ridiculously expensive, do not make the mistake of assuming the little ethnic shops will always be cheaper. I noticed the Middle Eastern grocer nearest me will change their prices, depending on the season (normal) and day of the month (not normal). Their prices are the highest at the beginning of the month, when most Danes receive their salary or government benefits, and lowest when people have the least amount of money. This contrasts with the habit of most stores offering deals at the beginning of the month, to lure customers in. 

Hope these tips help, Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Cheap Monday, maker of the cool high-waisted skinny jeans all the Danish girls are sporting, is having a special sale tomorrow at their Kronprinsensgade store. From 7-9pm, lucky shoppers will enjoy 20% off all non-sale items, free booze, and a free tote bag with purchase. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, check out their newest collection  for girls here

Don't forget to RSVP here to make sure you actually get in. With the promise of low(er) prices and free beer, I'm certain the place will be filled to capacity.

Full details available on Facebook.