Street Markets are hugely popular on the Costa Blanca and indeed, in all of Spain, with both locals and holidaymakers hunting out a bargain or buying their weekly fresh produce items. Throughout the Costa Blanca's villages, towns and cities there are markets of all kinds, from small intimate flea markets where customers brows at their leisure for that hidden rare antique, to huge bustling affairs taking up vast city streets and selling a mind boggling array of goods. Whatever market you choose to shop at, remember a few handy hints along the way.
While wandering around street markets the biggest problem, especially for foreigners, seems to be pressure. Whether from the tight crowds around the stalls or the stall holders themselves, feeling pressurised makes customers rush and this is a huge ploy used by many stall holders to charge more, give customer much larger quantities than they asked for, and in general just get away with a poor service. Watch how the locals shop, no matter the size of the crowd or pushiness of the stall holder, they demand good service and will not be rushed.
As with markets around the world, tight crowded spaces attract pickpockets so keep all cash and valuables in a safe place and be aware of the people around you. A handy hint before heading to the market is to make a list of the items you may wish to purchase besides fresh produce and browse the numerous ‘Chino Shops' beforehand to get some comparable prices.
Street Market Stalls
Fresh Produce – A popular part of all street markets, and probably the area where you can make the most savings compared to local supermarkets, if you know what you are looking for and don't fall for the tricks of the stall holders. Competition is fierce and street markets are extremely busy so before you know it, if you show the slightest interest in a certain product such as olives for instance, the stall holder will have filled a large tub to the brim and passed it to you along with a receipt. These olives are delicious and expensive so don't feel obliged to accept the vast amount they will try to give you. The receipt is just to show you the price so just politely say no and indicate on the tub where you want them to fill it to, regardless of the scowls you will receive from stall holders who, a minute ago were your best friend!
Bric-A-Brac – The majority of products on most general market stalls is bric-a-brac or tat as some people like to call the cheap Chinese and Korean electrics, electronics, toys, trinkets, gadgets, clothing, flip-flops, accessories and ‘rip off' designer gear that these stalls sell. This stuff is brought into the country in bulk and bought by huge foreign owned warehouses to sell on to the vast amount of ‘Chino Shops' in Spain, and of course market stall holders. So, unless it's just something that's caught your eye, if doing any serious shopping for bric-a-brac it's always a good idea to compare prices, as the market may not be the cheaper option.
Second Hand Goods – Further great savings can be made when buying certain items second hand or used if you know what you're looking for and have an eye for a bargain. Some of the second hand goods you will find at street markets are antiques and collectables, house hold goods, gardening items, tools and hardware, furniture, books, music memorabilia, electrical goods and clothing. Most stall holders browse Facebook buy & sell groups, attend auctions and explore charity shops for their items, which saves customers the effort and both parties get a deal. However, when it comes to electrical goods, power tools and so called ‘antiques' it's best to steer clear unless it's a great make or, in the case of antiques, you know your stuff.
Leather Goods – Certainly one of the nicest smelling areas of street markets, leather of all kinds feature highly at most markets and is usually great quality in Spain. Check the linings, stitching or glued seams for weakness or shoddy craftsmanship first and have a good feel too, quality leather just feels and smells right. You will often find within, or next door to these stalls, second hand leather jackets at very reasonable prices.
Cooked Food Stalls – The best smelling and most popular area of street markets, for meat lovers at least, has to be the cooked food stalls. Kebab skewers grilling over hot coals, huge rotisserie wagons with whole crispy chickens and marinaded ribs on a meat merry go round. Prices in general are cheaper than restaurants and due to the hungry crowds, the food is always fresh and piping hot. The delicatessen wagons are superb and stock an amazing array of fresh cooked and cured hams, sausages, wonderful cheeses, pate, pickles and cured fish. Quality is reflected in the price and prices in general are cheaper than the supermarkets.