I promised a friend back home that I would find him an ushanka – one of those Soviet era fur hats. If you’ve ever been to Prague, you know those are a dime a dozen, but all the ones they sell in souvenir shops are reproductions. Determined to find an old, original one, I went all over the city looking through consignment shops and thrift stores.
I didn’t find the hat. But while in search of communist era relics, I found so much more. If you’re looking to buy a really unique souvenir, or you just like rifling through old stuff, Prague is a treasure trove.
Consignment, thrift, and antique shops
Finding something so specific is very difficult because though there are antique stores everywhere in Prague, you’ll quickly realize that most of them specialize in gaudy decor from the mid-18th century like marble sculptures and ornate china. And like me, you might be looking for the kind of antiques that are from the 20th century.
If you try to Google it, you’ll find a lot of secondhand and consignment shops, but for the most part, these sell only clothes. And most of the businesses don’t have an informative online listing. So unfortunately, it’s impossible to figure out in many cases what they actually carry unless you go there. So I’ve done the leg work for you.
Where to get your Cold War and World War II Era Memorabilia
Bric a Brac Antiques
Týnská 627/7, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město
This was the first place I went to and by far, the most impressive. It’s a tiny hole of a store tucked in an alley in Old Town. But I felt like a genie in a lamp in there. You’ll be surrounded by household items, weapons, instruments, cameras, and signs from decades ago. The second I stepped foot in there, I realized my antiques search was expanding to typewriters. Because the thought of typing away on a real typewriter from the 30s while I watch the snow fall outside my window is too intoxicating to pass up.
Thinking I might also be able to find a good birthday gift for another WWII buff in my life, I asked the shopkeeper if he had anything. So he went in the back and returned with an original German copy of Mein Kampf, a Nazi armband, and even Nazi rolling papers. Not exactly what I had in mind, but wow. That should give you an idea of the scope of items you’ll find at Bric a Brac. Like everything else, because it’s in Old Town, the prices are high.
Alpha Industries Military Shop
Hybernská 1617/40, 110 00 Prague 1-New Town
Though this is primarily a military supply store in Zizkov, they have a small collection of historical items, mostly helmets, hats, and medals from every war the Czech Republic has ever been involved in (and probably some that they haven’t). You can also find used military uniforms from Germany, Slovakia, even the US. So if you don’t find the collector’s item you’re looking for here, you can at least go home with a pair of sturdy winter boots.
Kubelíkova 25, 130 00 Praha 3 – Žižkov-Praha 3
This store comes closest to the random assortment you’ll find at Bric a Brac, but in a less cluttered environment. Here you’ll find a lot of items you can use to decorate your house as well as small knick-knacks. There are plenty of lamps and artwork, along with some really cool pieces that are worth seeing like a turn of the century cash register and a phonograph (for my millennial friends, that’s the thing the dog is looking into in the old RCA logo… actually, nevermind.)
The Prague Thrift Store
Šumavská 29, 120 00 Praha 2-Vinohrady
Though this small chain mostly sells clothes, you’ll also find a few modern antiques in their stores, including record players, appliances, and games. You can even get in-line skates and ski equipment. It’s all about browsing and getting lucky. It definitely has the smallest selection of mid-20th century goodies, but it’s worth a visit to remember what a stereo looks like. Also, because sometimes you just need a corduroy jacket with elbow patches.
Anny Letenské 1240/2, 120 00 Praha 2-Vinohrady
Nearby in Vinohrady, you’ll find one of the largest antique stores of its kind in the city. Bazar P&J has a huge selection of “traditional” antiques including furniture and art. But they also have toys and games from the 40s and 50s, old war medals, and even textiles. Out of all the stores on this list, this is probably the cheapest. If you’re claustrophobic, this is also the most comfortable to get around.
Here I found a beautiful antique typewriter for less than $20, which is about a 5th of the price of the cheapest ones I saw at some of the other places. And it’s in perfect working condition. (Get ready, my blog is going analog.)
But I still haven’t found that silly Russian hat. Maybe I should try Moscow instead of Prague.
Get the GPS-guided version of this article on GPSmyCity here.