{market memo} el rastro

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Yesterday I mentioned a project that's been keeping me busy and today I'm giving you a hint as to what it is: flea markets!

It's been a while since my last Market Memo post so with an upcoming launch of a flea market related project, I thought I'd finally share some pics from El Rastro in Madrid. I've got to admit, the first time I visited El Rastro I was seriously disappointed when all we came across were booths filled with new indie clothing and tourist souvenirs. All those things are fine but where was all the vintage stuff?!? It's off the main drag, that's where it's at. You see, El Rastro spans an entire neighborhood of narrow streets on a slope just off of the La Latina metro station. Practically everyone enters the market via Calle de Toledo straight to Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores which makes it perfect for hawking local crafts and souvenirs. Vintage hunters, we figured out, should enter via Calle de la Arganzuela to go directly to a much quieter area of the market where all you'll find are small antique shops and individual traders.

Figuring out the alternate vintage route on our second trip really made me fall in love with El Rastro. Everything from the merchandise being sold off the floor to the laundry hanging to dry on balconies of the apartments above. It's a very unique and authentic experience for the simple fact that the vintage vendors don't just pay for a spot and set up a table once a week. These guys have tiny store fronts and come Sunday, they extend their shops out to the street and are joined by individuals who bring nothing but their merch and a blanket to lay it on. Pair this with a maze-like, hyper-local neighborhood and you get more than just a market - you get a sense of exploration that is unparalleled to shopping in a parking lot, a field, or one single designated street.

If you're going to go - which you totally should if you're in Madrid - go early around 8am or 9am to avoid the crowds that really build up after 10:30am. Also, don't miss Plaza del General Vara del Rey. Though at first it seems like it's only good for cheap tube socks and second hand clothes,  just past those stalls and near the center there are usually vintage dealers with all sorts of goods sprawled over blankets. Like always, the fun stuff is just off the beaten path.