Berlin is aiming to make second-hand cool

Posted on 23 March 2021.

In an effort to combat wasted resources, Berlin is testing an innovative concept by opening trendy outlets that only sell second-hand goods. The first step is a pop-up store in Karstadt.

Only 17% of Germans bought second-hand clothing in 2020.

In September 2020, Berlin opened its first second-hand pop-up store managed by the city council. This ephemeral store has been named "B-Wa(h)renhaus", which means department store.

On the third floor of the Karstadt department store, it covers an area of 660 square meters and sells clothing, furniture, electronics and decorative items. The connection between these goods is that they are all second-hand, in very good condition and would have otherwise gone in the trash. 

Alongside other items, this original initiative offers clothing a new lease of life and is fully in line with Germany's bold vision of developing its circular economy. The stakes are high when you consider that every year Europeans throw 3.2 million metric tons of textiles into the trash along with their household waste.

Berlin's goal is to go well beyond simply selling: it's about raising public awareness and inspiring a second-hand culture. The eco-responsible space also offers repair services, workshops and events. There’s a snack bar too, where people can eat short-dated foods that can’t be sold but are still good.


A strategic location

Locating this pop-up store in an emblematic shopping area in the German capital was a strategic decision to make it easier to reach consumers. Shoppers who would not spontaneously buy second-hand will be able to access goods and form a different idea of the reuse market.

With its innovative approach, the city hopes to reach those people that are the least sensitive to the circular economy and popularize buying second-hand.

Berlin is presenting its ephemeral store as "a store of the future" that will not only reduce waste but also offer customers cheaper products – a win-win combination!

According to its 2020-2030 waste master plan, Berlin aims to open several stores like the B-Wa(h)renhaus in different strategic locations in the city as soon as possible. Eventually, every district in the German capital could have its own second-hand outlet. 

The country is stepping up initiatives to increase its current 36% recycling rate to 63% by 2022. Berlin aspires to be a zero-waste city by 2030.