Sunshine, Great Food, a Bouncy Castle and a Kitten
In England, anyone can turn up and sell things from the back of their car in what they like to call “car boot fairs.” In the United States, we like to boot our possessions through garage and yard sales. These events are great fun – as a buyer, you can stumble upon a great treasure for hardly any money, and as a seller, you can move all that clutter out of your house once and for all, making a bit of money and maybe even a new friend on the way. The expat community of Prague is fueled by people arriving and leaving, but apart from a few private events there was no large-scale flea market. That´s where the idea for the Expat Market came from – we decided it was time to make our own, while implementing ideas that would simultaneously benefit charities.
And so, with the help of our enthusiastic friends at the Prague British School, who represent a large community of international families, we took that step last October. Even under rainy circumstances, the event was a success and everyone wanted to know when the next one would be. The way we saw it, we may well have been on our way to creating a real community tradition, and that proved to be the case at our next event. On a sundrenched Sunday, June 27th, 800 people turned up at the peaceful, woodsy grounds of Prague British School for the second ever Expat Market. All the event fees paid by sellers and buyers went to support our two charity organizations – Domov Sue Ryder and Klokanek foster home. Thanks to everyone´s participation, we raised 40,000 kc.
It was a fun day out for everyone, especially the children. They were entertained by the friendly staff of GoldLife , an agency that offers childcare, as well as personal and professional assistance. GoldLife organized a range of activities for children of all ages. The activities were set up as stations, a circle of arts and crafts tables where children could do things like decorate cookies and make jewelry, and there was a round of sports-related activities. After completing each activity the child received a diploma. On top of that, there was a big bouncy castle that the kind folks at Kindergarten brought.
By 8:30 that morning, it was obvious that this was going to be one hot day, but by 9:00 cars were pouring in and helpful volunteer lot attendants made sure cars were directed to their pitches and lined up in an orderly way. Other volunteers were busy collecting money from visitors and sellers, of which, 81 had pre-registered at the reduced rate. Sellers set up quickly and well before the gates opened to the public people bargain hunting and bargain finding.
From children´s furniture and toys, to souvenirs from exotic lands, to movies and books, clothes, art supplies, to a mannequin leg, people literally bargained for everything under the sun. Even those without a car were assigned special areas to make their own deals, able to spread their wares under a canopy. The intense heat and the constant sound of haggling happening all around was enough to wisk you to the markets of Istanbul or Marrakesh, if you felt so inclined. Designer shades, shoes and handmade bags were among the many consumer favorites. And if anyone hesitated to buy something because they weren´t sure how to get it back home, they needed only to take advantage of the free delivery service provided by relocation and moving experts at Interdean. Interdean was on hand with a big truck, plenty of boxes and the kind offer of transporting the bought goods right to people´s door after the market, all for free.
For the first time, this year we allowed businesses to take part in the market experience, able to sell their own company products. Companies who participated this way enjoyed their time out in the sun, while promoting their services themselves. One such company was popular online clothing outfit my-store.cz , who sold Guess handbags and Chanel cosmetics. Charming Jan Livesey of Wicked Wines led wine-tastings of their hard-to-come-by New World varieties, while Wild West Jerky brought a variety of their delicious jerky products, imported from Scotland. Not to mention they were giving Jelly Belly jelly beans away free. There were lovely handicrafts including gorgeous handmade stained glass, and under enormous parasols and with their own refrigerator, a microcosm of France sprang up: Very Good Saucissons , Fransyr (soon opening a French cheese shop here in Prague) and the fine wine and champagne of Antoine Phillippe .
In addition, Indian Jewel arrived with an assortment of wonderful curries and they did very well to impress, supplying hot food to a very hungry crowd. Holland Mix fried up positively addictive hors-d´oeuvres imported from Holland, including drumsticks, fried cheeses and spring rolls that were prepared on the spot. The owner, Paul Deverell is constantly preparing fresh batches of tidbits so he can quickly make more of whatever is in demand. This makes Holland Mix a great choice for catering events.
And if all that wasn´t enough, singer/guitar player Kate Powers joined us to sing her sweet covers of classics that put everyone is an even better mood. Another addition that made this year´s market fun was the beer tent serving tasty, cold and hard-to-find Eggenberg beer; and what event in Czech Republic would be complete without one?
Prize winners of the Expat Market raffle got a Volvo for the weekend courtesy of Auto Hase, who also contributed six gift bags. Other prizes were donated by Hotel Le Palais Prague, Moevenpick, Zofin-Garden restaurant, Aqua Trade, Belushi´s/Mosaic House, Vino Markuzzi, Tawan, Lily Room, World Class Fitness and The Little Gym. Many people won tickets to a football game at Sparta stadium, and entry to all the historical towers of Prague, courtesy of Prague Towers. But even people who didn´t get lucky at the raffle won the prize of a beautiful day outdoors, bargains, friends, food and fun, and all for a good cause.
Photography by Paul Pacey. See more at our Facebook Gallery.