You love shopping, but you got bored with the classic souvenir shops. You also already bought all the crafty stuff already, and you have 3 bullet journals and a thousand pens. Not to mention t-shirts, cups, and books… We understand!
So, let us guide you through a list of 10 quirky shops, that sell items that won’t end up getting dust in your basement. The choice is broad, but our team of Spotters guarantees these are the best quality spots for off-the-beaten-track shopping.
How About a Huge Neon in Your Living Room?
God’s Own Junkyard in London is not for the faint-hearted. It’s an overwhelming place crammed with pretty much any neon item you can think of. The result is a rather harsh visual impact, that is impossible to resist. Indeed, after the shock is over, you will find yourself spending hours roaming around in awe.
“Despite the photo and what you may have seen online, the visual impact this place makes on your first visit is jaw-dropping” – says Andrew from London.
Or A Plant to Keep You Company While Working From Home
This is probably the cutest thing ever. In Ljubljana, there’s an abandoned plants sanctuary that lets you adopt a rescued plant, complete with an adoption contract. Yes, you read it right! Indeed, these people rescue unwanted plants from around the city, and they take good care of them until they’re healthy and strong again. After that, they are ready for their new homes.
“The main statement behind the project Zavetišče za zavržene rastline, is that plants are living creatures and should not be treated as objects.” – says Jošt.
Work Hard, Play Hard – Vintage Czechoslovak Style
The offer of Hugo Chodi Bos is oddly specific. Indeed, this shop in Prague specializes in authentic copies of Czechoslovak toys as they were made before 1989. They are made by some of the best designers, with high-quality materials and attention to detail. Definitely interesting objects to own!
“I like to visit the shop for two reasons. The first is that it is hard to believe that these wonderful new editions still exist. You will feel as if you came out of a time machine. The next one is logical: when I travel abroad, I prefer buying original gifts” – says Katarina.
Nevermind, Just Buy the Winning Lottery Ticket!
Nimet Abla was a woman of Istanbul that sold lottery tickets for a living. That’s not all – she was indeed a smart woman! When somebody won the lottery with a ticket bought from her shop, she would tell everybody as a form of advertising. Because of that, she became a public figure of luck and lots of people came to her shop.
“It’s almost like an urban legend; if you get the ticket from her you surely will get something in return (obviously this is not the case most of the time).” – says Zekeriya.
Make Sure You Choose Unique Items and Support Local
If you like expressing yourself through your style and don’t like classic and trendy outfits everybody seems to wear, then take a trip to Tashkent! Here you can find a clothes shop where no two items are identical, making you the only person to own and wear anything you bought. What’s more, they use locally sourced, natural products, and the products are made in-house from raw material to the finished item.
“One of the features that made Kanishka successful is the marriage of Uzbek and Central Asian ethnic motifs with utilitarian product forms. The nostalgia evoked by these designs is favored by both local Tashkenters and foreign guests.” – says Malika.
And Why Not? Stock up on Cheap Kitchen Gear
Some people like fancy dishes, cute cups, and pretty wine glasses. Others just don’t care as long as it’s cheap. If you’re part of the second group and happen to be in Boston, we’ve got you covered. China Fair is a straightforward and cheap kitchen gear shop, with plenty of boxes everywhere full of stuff. Forget about color palettes and expensive silverware sets – and get ready for a treasure hunt!
“I find my cocktail spoon in a cardboard box filled with others. Its price is $ 1, and it is a bit dusty, but that’s not a big deal. Dust washes off, but a good deal is forever.” – says our Spotter Cris.
Forget About Souvenirs and Give Your Floor a Makeover
Just kidding- these are decorative tiles! Indeed, Lisbon is quite famous for the beautiful colored tiles covering buildings. At Cortiço & Netos, you can see, touch, and buy all kinds of tiles from the last 50 years or so – making it more of a museum than a shop! It really deserves a visit as it’s one of those few souvenir shops whose items have a real artistic and cultural value.
“Unfortunately, tiles are stolen from buildings to be sold as souvenirs in flea markets. At “Cortiço & Netos” you can buy from an immense collection of tiles, all genuine and new, from the old Portuguese factories instead!” – says Alexandre.
Start Easy, Get a Semi-Permanent Tattoo
Oh yeah, we should probably mention – temporary tattoo! Inkbox in Toronto is a start-up that developed a semi-permanent, natural ink that allows you to get a tattoo that will last about 8-18 days. Differently, from a temporary tattoo that just sits on top of the skin, this tattoo’s ink actually sinks into the top layer of the skin. What’s more, besides choosing from the designs collection, you can create your own design online.
“When some family was visiting from out of town – I jokingly suggested we should all get tattoos – so we did!” – says Toronto Spotter Astoria.
Not Just a Yarn Shop, but an Awesome Community Behind It
Happiness is about meeting the right people more than it’s about having plenty of things. People at Looped Yarn Works in Washington D.C. truly believe in this concept! Indeed, (in non-pandemic times) they organize classes, events, meetups and encourages you to come in and work on your projects in the shop.
“Looped Yarn Works calls itself D.C.’s happiest yarn shop, and I can’t argue with that. The shop is like your best friend’s living room (complete with a couch and a fireplace), but the walls are lined with rainbows of yarn.” – says Katya from Washington D.C.
Wine Is Good – How About Buying a Barrel of It?
Okka wine store in Athens is just perfect: they have a huge selection, the staff knows how to find the best wine for any needs, and – it’s cheap. Indeed, they don’t sell wine in bottles but have huge barrels in the stores, and just fill up any bottle of any size you’d like. This makes for high-quality wine and good prices – and a zero-waste effort for the planet!
“Every visit to this shop is like a journey to the distilleries of Greece. Whenever I go there, I explain the occasion for the wine or the dish that I am going to cook and they offer me to try all possible choices” – says Angeliki.
Curious about other quirky shopping places around the world? Check out one of our 80+ city guides!