Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, which is supposed to be the happiest country on earth. Now I had always heard depression is more prevalent in places like Scandinavia where the winter days are short and cold. But as I grow older, I have come to realize that happiness is not having what you want; it’s being grateful for what you have.
What the residents of Copenhagen have is a city dotted with consignment shops, resale stores and thrift shops. And it’s not considered gauche to be seen patronizing these establishments. I don’t know about you but if I lived in Copenhagen, that would be enough to make me ecstatic.
I was determined to find some of these places. My quest led me away from the tourist traps and into a the residential neighborhoods of the City. Along the way, I found an area peppered with vintage and antique stores which were perfect for buying gifts and souvenirs. Here’s what I found:
Bla Kors Gebrug is located in a residential neighborhood near the Danish Museum of Art and Design. This is a charity shop meaning that it is a non-profit and less pricy than consignment shops.
The space was large but there were not many clothes at the time I was there. No matter; what they did have was quality and in good condition. I bought a striking lined felt merino wool shell and a long, wide silk-blend scarf–and I found two pair of circular knitting needles. The cost for everything was under $15.00 US. A visit to the Design Museum rounded out the day.
The next day, we spent the morning at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and then headed West on Vesterbrodgade in search of more treasure. I was not disappointed. I checked out two resale shops: Genbrug where they sell most items by the kilo, and and Kirkens Genbrug. Both of these are also charity shops.
If you are into vintage, don’t miss Genbrug. Besides womens’s clothes (grouped by decade – 60’s, 70’s and so on) they sell accessories including a wide range of purses and pocketbooks. Not everything is in top condition, so it is advisable to examine before you buy. The store is crammed with clothes and very popular so I would bet there’s a lot of turnover.
Kirkens Genbrug sells women’s and children’s clothes, books, tchotchkes, accessories, housewares, small appliances and whatever else anyone donates. The inventory was in good condition. Their clothes were a little less retro and more to my taste. I didn’t buy anything here, but I wanted a sweater the cashier was wrapping up for someone else. Isn’t that always the way?
My big surprise was finding a cluster of curio and curiosity shops around 170 Vesterbrogade. When I started out on my shopping exploration, I did not expect to find so many interesting antique shops. Most of the items they sold fit more into the vintage than the antique category meaning that they were charming and affordable. It also meant that my gift recipients would not be getting T shirts, refrigerator magnets or Viking statues. Ok, maybe one Viking statue but that’s a special case.
I stumbled into a little place called Antike Kate at Vesterbrogade 177. The store was stuffed with china and crystal and jewelry and trinket boxes, ornate frames, vases, silver candlestick holders and vintage picture frames. And more. I bought an amber pendant on a silver chain and a vintage picture frame for gifts and a small old-fashioned flat iron that I will use in my metal work. I wish I had bought more things; I could have done most of my Christmas shopping.
Antike Kate was only one of many curio shops on that stretch of Vesterbrogade. Many of them had merchandise out on the sidewalk to lure customers. A waiter back at our hotel said that tourists routinely complained about how expensive things are in Copenhagen. And they are. So he was surprised when I told him that I found some cool stuff at a good price.
I enjoy exploring antique and curio shops when I am outside the US because the stock is different than what I’m used to and, if you ask, there’s always a proprietor to tell the story that goes with an item. I always learn something even if I don’t buy.
And looking is free.