Miss Thrifty: Death to the shopping centre!

Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Sinead Van Kampen

I dislike shopping centres - moody teenagers, surly adults, losing your wing mirrors on level Z of the car park and the sense of non-anticipation you get from knowing exactly what you'll find before you even get there.

There is another way. Now that we’re all over the idea that shopping in the middle of nowhere equals progress, it's good to see that Irish markets are going from strength to strength.

OK, so maybe vintage fashion isn't for everyone, and occasionally the smaller venues can be full of tourists whose sole interest seems to be staring longingly at Celtic jewellery, but compared to identikit retail outlets the return of markets is a trend to be encouraged - and the next couple of weeks sees some of my favourites come back to town.

The Dublin Flea - Coop, New Market, Dublin 8

Small and not even perfectly formed, the Dublin Flea Market is a great place to start.

Lots of vintage fashion, bric-a-brac, and that nice feeling you get when you find lots of things you never knew you actually wanted but then find you can't live without.

There are book stalls, vinyl, a gorgeous hat emporium, retro furniture and plenty of thrifty finds. As the market is quite small the atmosphere is good ( if not a little 'cooler than thou' ) and if you get there on time the house band is always a favourite.

The next Dublin Flea takes place on Sunday, September 27, from 11am to 5pm.

ToeJam Car Boot Sale - The Bernard Shaw, Richmond Street, Portobello, Dublin 2

At one point early in 2003 it looked as though eBay was fast on its way to making all other forms of shopping obsolete. I'm relieved to say this didn't happen. It didn't happen because on eBay you can't have a stall selling homemade cup cakes, you can't dress up in fancy dress and sell junk from the boot of your car, and you can't invite along a self-styled 'Ragga Grandad' for a DJ residency while you drink away your profits. You can do all this and more at the ToeJam Car Boot Sale.

Every month the Bernard Shaw hosts an eclectic get-together of Dublin’s most colourful wheeler dealers. Given that the stalls are chosen by the host it's pretty much impossible to predict what will be on offer but anything from a second-hand three-piece suit to a second-hand three-piece suite might just sum it up.

In any event, the ToeJam is well worth a visit since the true ethos of the market is that it's as much about how you are 'sold to' as it is about what items you are 'sold'. Think Andy-Warhol meets Del and Rodney and you're nearly there. ToeJam is worth a visit for the food and the bar alone.

The next ToeJam Car Boot Sale is on Saturday, September 26, from 1pm to 5pm.

Market4Style - Chambers Bar, Washington Street, Cork

Cork’s monthly homage to jewellery, vintage handbags and fair-trade fashion.

The ethos of Market 4 Style is vintage and pre-loved, but the event has a lively feel. It's a good place to save a few bob while unearthing the odd fashion find. If this kind of shopping is your thing you may also look out for Stitch or Switch, which is the regular clothes swapping event.

Market4Style will be taking place on Saturday, September 26, from 10am to 6pm.

The Loft - Powerscourt Townhouse - Dublin 2

Tucked away in the loft at the Powerscourt Centre, the weekly Loft Market is the brainchild of Dublin stylist Aisling Farinella and was set up in 2006 with the aim of promoting young Irish designers and specialist fashion retailers. With everything from vintage originals to modern art, the Loft is a lot more design-d than bric-a-brac, but it’s a great place to pick up well made items and unique designs.

The Loft takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Powerscourt Centre.

Cows Lane Designer Mart - Lord Edward Street, Dublin 2

This market tends to be a bit pricey, but then that’s because what's on offer is genuinely well made. Designer clothing, vintage fashion and hand-crafted modern furniture bring together the best in Irish design.

If you like your markets busy, Cows Lane brings a bit of bustle while you’re shopping and it’s only a stone's throw from the weekly Farmers' Market.

The Cows Lane Designer Mart takes place every Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

Sinead Van Kampen is the editor of The Savvy Shopper. For a rundown on fashion and food bargains plus regular insider tips visit TheSavvyShopper.ie website.