DON'T GIVE UP. 10 ways to enjoy capitalism in Riga when on hard times. UPDATED 20.10.2019

Despite the eradication of poverty going on well globally, there are times when life isn't giving you lemons. Even when it seems the world is your oyster and it rushes lushly before our eyes, it's the living conditions that might get demanding in Riga - one must take measures to limit expenses while staying warm, dry, fed, educated and good-looking.
On this article, dedicated to the World Poverty Day, CAPITAL R will give 10 tips on living a cheaper life in Riga that might also mean a better life for the environment, local businesses and your pocket.

Second Hand shops in Riga, charity shops in Riga, Capital Riga

When setting up this selection, we tried to avoid recommending places so local that even locals might not know about, or places that speak hardly any English (or are not even trying). Nor is this article about happy hours at pubs. If you think it's still cheaper to get cockeyed at happy hours rather than simply buying booze at grocery store, it's your own problem. Besides, when life gets hard, alcohol is the least thing you need, despite what we are taught to do. So we will rather stick to clothing, tableware, and food for belly and thought from now on.

On the one hand, this might seem like an article for those not being able to spend extra money on common goods or buy the same amount and quality of food, clothes, home appliances etc. But we believe this will be also be useful for those, who strongly believe that there is also no need for every new piece of anything in general and those who are fond of the second-hand movement and "treasure" hunting. So - even if you have plenty of money, this article will recommend no shops for brand new 1-euro t-shirts to live a cheaper life, or some discount outlets that still sell the same old scabby mega-brands exclusively, poisoning, enslaving or squandering our planet.

On the other hand, let's not get too positive as well. Latvia has become the "dumpster of second-hand" clothing coming from Scandinavia, Germany, England, or elsewhere. A transit country with a zero sustainable national recycling strategy. For sure, it might seem like an accessible way to equip residents with rarely used clothes - from good brands, qualitative in material and great in price (it seems we have become picky around here!). But then, it's around 10 000 - 15 000 tons of unnecessary fashion trash that ends up in Latvia. Although, only a small percentage goes to the bin and half the portion ends up further in Belarus, Pakistan or Africa, any textile you buy here will end up in landfills sooner or later. Any item you purchase in Latvia never goes to specialized recycling here, because we have none yet, and synthetic fabric does not get widely recycled in general1.



Therefore, although the second-hand movement is a great way to reducing the amounts of new production and giving more options to the people for the same price, we also wish to remind you that there's still the same shady scheme behind. Getting rid of one's problem caused by one's ugly consumerism by dropping it in someone else's garden. So, whether it's second-hand or fashion in general, be more responsible and reasonable, it won't make your butt hurt.

1. DGS 
If you are looking for: clothing.
Coming to Riga from a small town called Aizkraukle 15 years ago, DGS were the first and locally owned grand chain to sell second-hand clothing in Latvia (everything second-hand is called "humanitarian assistance" here or "humpalas" in short). Now it's always nice to pay a visit to the deep suburbs because DGS in Riga are only located out of the city centre - Bolderāja, Jugla, Ķengarags and Zolitūde. To be honest, usually the best findings are to be found in the city outskirts similarly to any other second-hand store; seems that people simply have a less demanding and obscure taste there.

2. HUMANA
If you are looking for: clothing.
After DGS came HUMANA, the first considerable international chain spreading its second-hand clothing network across the nation's largest towns. Opening their first store in 2006, they gained popularity right around crisis. People were looking for some contemporary second-hand rig, sometimes being even cheaper than DGS, and was promoted through monthly sales (now taking place during the week before every mid-month when your best bang for the buck gets up to 75% cheaper!). Today everybody knows about HUMANA, be it Riga or Berlin. Some might critique their size compared to local brands, although without this chain there wouldn't be a generation of millennials causing Latvians to love the second-hand rather than despise it. After all, buying clothes at thrift shops around the year 2000 was considered disgraceful by many wannabe capitalists and being exclusively an act of the poor. Now the capitalist kids are grown up being the biggest consumers of the second-hand. In your face, fast fashion (we hope).

3. LABĀ BODE  
If you are looking for: tableware, interior objects, small retro home appliances, misc.
If in need for some used crockery and cutlery, small furniture, retro appliances, cups, mugs, and other trash and treasure for, literally, peanuts, LABĀ BODE is another local chain offering surprising items in few locations around the central city. One can buy a perfectly preserved 100-year-old china piece next to old two-reel projectors, naïve paintings in fantastic frames or calculators from the eighties. Useless or not, a visit to any LABĀ BODE is a visit to a living museum, where everything can be yours at lowered prices.

4. LATVIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ART
If you are looking for: art.
Like many cultural spaces of a national scale, the collection of institutions behind the largest art spaces in the country is also opening its doors for free or for a super reduced price regularly. Despite several other conditions, visitors to the permanent exhibition at the Latvian National Museum of Art, Rīgas Birža, and Museum of Decorative Arts and Design are welcome to attend the given three for free on the last Sunday of every month. As for the ARSENĀLS exhibition hall - there is the Good Thursday deal when all tickets cost EUR 1,50 and the space is open until 20:00.

A dance performance by Alexis Blake at the Latvian National Art museum during the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art. (2018, Ieva Laube).

5. MAXIMUM FASHION
If you are looking for: clothing, accessories (even perfume).
When individual pieces of fashion are not enough, two second-hand chains can weight out you some. KILOMAX and ModaMaks are focusing on the weighing principle. But be careful, on the one hand, this allows you to buy smaller and lighter items in bulk much cheaper, but, on the other - promotes just another way of buying only more stuff you might not actually need.

H&M, I mean, M&M!

6. MILITARY SECOND-HAND
If you are looking for: high-durability clothing, footwear, and outdoor equipment, misc.
There are two stores we can recommend for both fans of military garments or gear, and those looking for high durability items. Selling second-hand or completely new items mainly from international military stocks, Arsenal and Patrioti are the leaders in the market as well as the only ones offering such services for reduced, pleasant prices. Both stores are also a good, and affordable alternative to people of active lifestyle; the weather in Northern Europe can be poor, and who should be prepared the best to it than the soldiers?

7. OTRĀ ELPA
If you are looking for: clothing, books, records, toys, interior objects, misc.
Celebrating their 10 year anniversary recently, "The Second Breath" were the first charity shop to introduce the principle of the donation circle in Latvia - local individuals exclusively were invited to bring their spare things that ended up being sold at the OTRĀ ELPA shops or being given away to social centres, while the money went to charity or supporting social projects. OTRĀ ELPA also make use of the sales that happen during the last week of every month, and things, similarly to HUMANA, only get cheaper than cheap. Be it clothing, accessories, toys, cutlery, small home appliances or even old family relics, this charity shop has everything for everyone. We already mentioned the chain when speaking about great places to buy vinyl or books in English, and OTRĀ ELPA definitely has a good selection of both across all shops.

A look at the first, cosy Otrā Elpa store now simply moved the opposite side of Marijas street (2010, CAPITAL R).

8. RĀMA
If you are looking for: food.
Although some say that this Hare Krishna based vegetarian/vegan canteen has become more expensive in recent years, they still offer cheaper, yet decent meals especially during their last working hours from 19:30 - 20:30. What's more, after Rāma closes one can approach the back door of the kitchen to purchase any food left from the current day, usually costing around 2 euros total per several portions. Eventually, it's always nice to pay a visit now and then to a place that has been providing free warm meals also to the homeless since 1989!

The well known Hare Krisha fan at Rāma. Mostly never on.

9. RDA
If you are looking for: clothing
Who can recall now, but seems that the RDA offer was to blame for millenials to develop a special subculture of local roamers called "humpalu tourists". This, probably the largest chain nationally, spreading its wings across the whole country, became a destination for local short-term "treasure hunters", passing by small towns. Similarly to DGS, RDA still have the best offer concentrated out of Riga, where local residents have not yet showed much desire for some boujee garments.

10. ROBERT'S BOOKS
If you are looking for: books
We have already explained, why this non-Latvian-friendly second-hand book store is in our TOP 3 of the coolest book shops around Riga, so there is not much more to tell. Their unique selling point is still the vast collection of even cheaper books than those in Bolderāja, that by the way, is another good place for trained book worms we mentioned on that top.

MORE INFO
  • For a more fancy, yet, again, discounted meal we suggest the BALTS bistros that offer Japanese influenced meals for a price 30% lover 30 minutes before closing every day;
  • There are several extra options for those speaking or understanding Latvian. Let's see when the next sale month comes, but the Valters un Rapa bookshop in Old Town used to put out dozens of their unsold books for very good prices quarterly.
  • Also, as much as we know, the Dailes theatre usually put their last tickets on sale just moments before the actual performance. It's a 50:50 opportunity to get in, but the price is usually around 2 euros, and some seats can actually turn out royal.



1 Latvija - Eiropas lietoto drēbju kapsēta. Tvnet.lv

Comments