For some people, trolling for vintage treasures is second-nature, more exciting and rewarding than stepping into any department store or upmarket boutique. Buenos Aires, a shopper’s paradise, is chock-full of secondhand finds, particularly in the more gentrified districts of San Telmo and Palermo, but elsewhere in the city as well. From upscale vintage shops stocking designer labels and styles from the turn of the century onward, to accessories-only boutiques, to the less selective ‘feria americana’ thrift stores, retro fans will find that getting lost among the racks, boxes, and shelves for afternoons on end is easy. Read on for some recommendations of must-stop shops.
The Sunday Feria de San Telmo is a must for browsing local antiques’ vendors’ stalls, grouped together in and around the charming heart of the neighborhood, Plaza Dorrego, for a full day of vintage shopping. Be sure to drop into the Mercado de San Telmo, the century-old covered market where shoppers will encounter textiles, jewelry, clothes, records, buttons, etc. The fair extends down to Parque Lezama on the border of La Boca, where the goods become more flea market-quality.
If flea market shopping is your thing, head over to the Mercado de las Pulgas, a sprawling warehouse just off the beaten path in Palermo. Over thirty vendors group together in the space’s stalls to provide ample selection of furniture, knick-knacks, clothes, shoes, and just plain wacky finds.
For 1950′s sunglasses, shoes, and jewelry galore, hit El Buen Orden in San Telmo. The packed shelves and amusing displays make for hours of enjoyable browsing. Be sure to check out the glam rings and brooches in the window cases. Those looking more for clothes must hit Juan Pérez, the city’s foremost consignment shop with a VIP section for the most exclusive labels.
Want more tips? Hop on a tour with the girls from Vintage Paradise, BA locals who will custom-design a secondhand circuit based on what you’re after. Tours start at 100 pesos per person per 4-hour tour.