Market shopping for vintage stuff I don’t need is my favourite weekend pastime in Barcelona. Not so long ago, it wasn’t really a thing. Your go to place was the centuries-old Els Encants flea market. Before it became a fantastic architectural icon, it was a pretty grimy affair. If you didn’t lose your euros to a pickpocket you would parting them out for what you thought was 1970s desk lamp; only to see the rubbed out IKEA stamp upon closer inspection at home.
Now we have El Flea and Barcelona Vintage Market, both that have become places hipsters go to post brunch. I had known about Mercantic for quite some time. Being located in Sant Cugat, a pretty town, but a good half-an-hour by train from Barcelona, it took me a while to get there. Now I can’t wait to go back.
Mercantic occupies an entire disused factory, plus every laneway, patio and nook and cranny in-between. I can’t find out what sort of factory it was, but going by its size it must have been huge, and abundance of outdoor spaces suggest a timber yard. Around its periphery, there are makeshift, flea market-type stalls whose offering, from garage sale junk to used High Street brand clothing, is not that different from what you find in Barcelona. But then you get inside and realise just how diverse the range is.
If you are looking to renovate or furnish a home, there is really no need to shop anywhere else. There are shops selling antiques linens, high quality mid-century furniture, architectural elements such as room dividers and old taps, and enough chandeliers to fit out the Palace of Versailles. Contemporary design, craft and handmade gets a looky-in too – from upcycled furniture to revved up bicycles and pottery. Just when you think you have seen it all, you turn a corner and find yourself inside yet another warehouse selling deceased estate bric-a-brac, which adds another hour or two to what you thought would be a morning’s visit.
But that’s not a problem, as Mercantic has lots of options for taking a breather from shopping. I counted two lovely cafes (there could be more), both with live acoustic music and one incorporating a second hand bookshop so big it brought to mind Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There are food trucks for on-the-go eating; one serving Scotch eggs and free shots of whiskey, which seemed particularly considerate on such a wintery day. I came home with a 1960s coffee table that cost a whole 19 euros, and satisfied that my marketing Sundays had just had an upgrade.
Saturdays 9.30am – 8pm and Sundays 9.30am – 3pm
Avinguda Rius i Taulet 120, Sant Cugat de Valllés
Take the FGC S2 line from Catalunya to Vollpollares station, (15 minutes)