Since June 2013, a small alley in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh district transforms into an antique market once a week, where people gather to buy and sell antiques and reminisce on the old days.
The 500m2 market at alley number 456 Hoang Hoa Tham features more than 30 stalls that sell various antiques, ranging from everyday objects and war remnants to useless, obsolete items.
One can find just about anything at the market, such as soldiers’ weather-beaten water bottles, pendulum clocks, old bank notes, photos, and chipped porcelain.
The items range from dozens to hundreds of years old and are worth anywhere from hundreds of dong to several million dong.
One of the special things about the market, which is open from 7am to 4.30pm every Saturday, is that sellers don’t have to pay to rent their stalls, and visitors don’t have to pay any entrance fees.
In its first month after its launch, the market was held once every two weeks, but after receiving a large number of visitors and clients, the market began to be held weekly.
The market attracts young and old alike. While elderly people come to the market to look for items that hold memories of their childhood or the war years, youths mostly come to indulge their collecting hobbies or learn more about items used by previous generations.
The market also proves to be a magnet for seasoned antique collectors, who care much less about earning profits than meeting like-minded people and building a community.
Although he holds a stable job as the head accountant of a local company, Trung gets up early every Saturday and carries his wares to the market.
He mainly sells family heirlooms. Though the profit he earns is marginal, he’s very happy that the market helps him fully appreciate the historical and cultural values of the items he’s received from older family members.
Meanwhile, Huy, an elderly customer, is elated that he has finally found a belt that resembles one he lost, given to him by a comrade during the war years.
“The atmosphere here is reminiscent of earlier days and serene; it’s a different world from the hustle and bustle of the city,” shared Kieu Quoc Khanh, market organizer.
Khanh auctions one antique item each month to raise funds for needy hospital patients.