This post can be relevant for anyone who plans to go to a foreign city and buy stuff for the next leg of your travels.
I had 12 days. I had to buy camping & cycling gear in Berlin for my long distance trip from Berlin to Copenhagen – 750 km.
I had spoken to cyclists here in Mumbai, got their tips. Also researched online. It is important to have clarity on what type of gear you need and things to check before buying. (I will be sharing my notes on gear for a long distance cycling trip a bit later)
So here is a summary of the various ways to search out good, recommended shops to actually buy the gear,
1) Thorough online search – “budget cycle in Berlin”, “used cycles in Berlin” and so on
2) Join relevant FB groups n communities – I joined biking Berlin groups, but didn’t get many suggestions there. It is still a good place to have discussions and share your experiences
3) Talk to locals – I contacted the owner of a Facebook Berlin cyclers group, got some of his thoughts. I also spoke to my AirBnB host and got views there as well. It helped.
4) Talk to local shops and get their recommendations – This is another way to get in touch with local enthusiasts, these people know the industry really well and so should be able to help. Sometimes it helps to talk to them to rule out options. For eg: To sell my cycle in Copenhagen I went about asking cycle shops whether they knew anyone who would buy it. Most refused. One person gave a very low offer – so I ruled out selling back to shops.
The place I finally bought my used bike – I didn’t see it mentioned in any group or web search. I got to know of it, as a recommendation from another cycle shop which was selling new bikes only.
So using the above three methods I shortlisted these places for used bikes in Berlin,
Bike Piraten – this is where I got my bike. It would be my first stop next time I go there to get cycling gear
Bikers park – also had good deals and are reliable
Mauer park flea market – apparently low quality (and possibly stolen) but if you get a good deal then you can really reduce your expense. This flea market takes place only on Sundays, and it was canceled the week I was there due to stormy weather. So you have to keep back up options.
Facebook groups where people put up stuff to sell – this is how I sold my stuff – the flip side is that you have to keep waiting to find the right product. For me, I needed a smaller cycle size. This was quite difficult in Europe – so groups like this are not the best option
eBay Berlin – didn’t see much quality stuff here. And overall I find such places a bit shady to be honest. Maybe some good deals… I don’t really know. But I would prefer the above options over eBay. At least on Facebook I can check the persons profile information before meeting them
Once you explore all the above options, you will start getting ideas and recommendations to get rest of the cycling gear as well. These are some places I would mention in Berlin,
Stadler – huge showroom n has some decent budget stuff as well. Helpful staff and a section where you can repair your cycle yourself
Supermarkets like Lidl & Woolworth have some really cheap accessories – worth saving few bucks on. For eg: reflectors n vests
Mauer park flea market 🙂 You can get cycle locks at half the price
Apart from these there are also many small bike shops which sometimes have sale… So those can be checked out..
Again followed a similar search process for camping stuff. I managed to find an online blog that had listed down shops that had good camping gear. I checked out all their online websites and figured out the most relevant shops for me.
Camping gear varies a lot depending on your trip details. For eg festival tents are cheaper but they wouldn’t be right for my trip. Other problem I faced is that while I could see many 4-5 people tents on eBay, there were none for 1 person or even 2 persons.
Also since I was a real camping newbie I figured going for cheap, new stuff would be better than buying 2nd hand and not realizing when there is something wrong with the tent or sleeping bag.
So finally I found these shops,
Real.De – is a supermarket with a camping section.
Camp4.De – has some good options. I didn’t visit them though.
MontK – this is where I bought my tent & sleeping mat n cooking kit. I got a 2 persons Coleman tent which cost me €85 as it was the cheapest decent camping tent. The single person tent was over € 100.
People in many of these shops were very helpful & they have thorough knowledge of what they are selling… In fact Thomas from MontK gave me so many suggestions about my trip – it was like a summary in 30 mins of all the research I had done online over many hours.
If you are a newbie then I think it is good to go to these respectable stores and get the person to give some gyaan (advise) – as they are really experienced people.
All in all my experience in Berlin was great. Through this trip gear-buying I got in touch with many people and came to know a bit about their culture. 🙂