Second hand

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Entrance to a second hand store

Brockenhaus (or Brockenstube or Brockenhalle ) has been a self-designation for many second-hand shops in Switzerland since the end of the 19th century , in which used everyday items can be purchased cheaply. Today the abbreviation Brocki has established itself in many cases .


The name Brockenhaus goes back to the biblical quote in John 6:12 about feeding the five thousand, according to which Jesus instructed his disciples: "... Collect the remaining chunks so that nothing perishes." (Based on the Luther translation). The German Protestant theologian Friedrich von Bodelschwingh (1831-1910), founder of the Bethel Mission, created an "institute for epileptics" in 1872 and opened a collection and sales point for used goods, the proceeds of which were used to finance his social work. He called them "Brockenhaus" based on the quoted passage in the Bible. The philanthropist J. Müller implemented this idea in Berlin in the 1890s to create jobs.

Inside a second hand store

In Switzerland, secondhand stores were founded by the Salvation Army and other organizations from around 1895 (the Bärner Brocki was opened by the Association for Employment Creation in 1895). While the numerous “Brockis” in Switzerland have long been typical and popular institutions, the term is practically unknown in large parts of Germany today. In Wuppertal -Barmen, a social department store bears the name “Das Brockenhaus” again. The name was chosen based on the “Barmer Brockensammlung”, from which at the beginning of the 20th century people in need were allowed to use all sorts of useful items that wealthy and pious citizens had donated. A second-hand shop in Mainz is called “Brockenhaus”.

Current situation in Switzerland

Brocki in Switzerland as short for Brockenhaus in use

In addition to the Salvation Army, second-hand shops in Switzerland known as second-hand stores are often run by other charitable organizations and in some cases also serve to co-finance their social concerns and / or as employment opportunities for particularly disadvantaged job seekers (disability, illness, origin, etc.). Secondhand goods, at least in the original charitable concept, receive their second-hand goods mostly free of charge from citizens, from companies or from household liquidations. Examples of organizations that run second-hand stores are the Salvation Army , the Blue Cross , the Emmaus Organization , the women's associations and HIOB International (abbreviation for “Aid Organization Brockenstuben”, founded in 1984, an organization for the recycling of medical facilities, industrial and commercial goods ). Today the Salvation Army operates around 25 shops in Switzerland, HIOB International 26, the Blue Cross 13 second-hand shops.

In recent years, privately run junk dealers have also increasingly appeared, partly with the same motivation, partly as profit-oriented companies, since the term “Brockenhaus” or “Brockenstube” is free. Therefore, in addition to the mostly Christian charity, there are in Switzerland, numerous private, purely commercially-run thrift stores, second-hand dealers and junk dealer who positively occupied the and well-established, but not trademarked term Broki, Brockenstube or Brockenhaus etc. carry in their company name and advertising also use legally.

Second hand stores in Austria

In Vorarlberg , Lebenshilfe Vorarlberg operates brocken houses in Lochau and Sulz. The second hand store Vorderland in Sulz / Röthis has been operating since 2002. The secondhand stores are treasure troves and at the same time offer jobs for people with disabilities. At the same time, apprenticeships are made available to young people in the catering and retail sector. The second hand stores of Lebenshilfe Vorarlberg are based on the original second hand thought and round off their range with decorative items, household items and antiques.

Similar terms and facilities

Brocante shop window in Troyes, France

Sometimes (in French-speaking areas in general) the second-hand shop is referred to with the French word "Brocante" or German for Brocanthaus. “La brocante” in French can mean either a second-hand store or a commercial shop with high-quality antiques or simply a flea market .

Since the second half of the 20th century, the public flea markets have partly taken over the function of second hand stores and trading in second-hand goods and are in competition with them.

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