Flea market fans follow bargains indoors

Summer move from Safa Park to hotel ballroom keeps sellers and shoppers cool while the bargains remain hot.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, July 17: People buying different items in the flea market held at Jumeirah ballroom in Crowne Plaza hotel in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Leah

DUBAI // It takes more than sizzling temperatures to put off the city's bargain hunters, as they showed yesterday when they flocked to the Dubai Flea Market before it had even opened. Organisers of the popular second-hand sale, which has moved indoors to the Crowne Plaza hotel's Jumeirah Ballroom for the summer, estimated that about 150 shoppers were queuing at the doors before the market's 10am start, in a bid to snap up the best buys.

"The weather does not seem to be affecting people's desire to buy and exhibit," said Gavin Morlini, one of the organisers, who began setting up for the event at 4am. "We have more than 120 exhibitors, and while the number of visitors is not going to be as high as at Safa Park, there were queues. The hotel staff were ushering people in 10 at a time so that the lifts didn't get crowded." The market began in spring 2008. It is held at least once a month, regularly attracting large crowds of Emirati and expatriate shoppers keen to snap up a good deal.

Items for sale include second-hand electrical appliances, clothing, shoes, bags, books, DVDs and jewellery, as well as original handicrafts made by local jewellery and clothes designers. On the staircase, families carried boxes and large jute bags filled with goodies past determined-looking shoppers heading towards the bustling ballroom, where rows of exhibitors were busy haggling with shoppers. Some stalls, such as the one run by Joanna Serrano, a 28-year-old flight attendant from the Philippines, were all but empty. "I think I have made more than Dh500," she said. "I was selling dresses and accessories, shoes and bags, at around Dh10 or Dh15 each." Ms Serrano is moving to Las Vegas and wanted to see other people, particularly compatriots, benefit from the things she could not take with her. "I am happy for them to be able to use the stuff I cannot take with me. I pick up things from different places while travelling," she said. One Filipina benefiting from the sale, Cristina Iscala, 35, said she and her husband no longer bought from malls. "The clothes are good quality and the prices are good," she said. "I bought the complete Prison Break box set for Dh30 the last time, and other series. "We still go to the malls, but just to see the brands. I see shopping here as an achievement, when I get something I know costs much more at the malls." Salil Kadam, his wife, Vaijayanti, and son, Dhruv, juggled several large bags filled with buys as they walked around the hall. It was their sixth visit to the market. "It's worth coming for the bargains," Mr Kadam, 34, said. "We mostly buy household items and toys. The last time we bought some nice mirrors and a cupboard, for somewhere in the region of Dh30. They had rarely been used and were in very good condition." Zoran Dragacevic, the managing director of an electronics company, watched from the sidelines as one of his three sons haggled with a shopper over the price of two children's books. "I brought my kids," he said, with a smile. "They want pocket money, the crisis is here and they have to learn the value of money." As his son sold two books for Dh20, Mr Dragacevic said: "He is selling his stuff in order to buy more things. It has been very busy. Now we are going to go home, divide up the money and see what they want to buy with it." Details of the next market can be found at www.dubai-fleamarket.com loatway@thenational.ae