Don't get crushed by debts this gift-giving season
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Unlike many people, we mourn the heller. We're coin-oriented people, having not seen a piece of paper money in a long, long time...

A recent glance at the calendar reminded us that Christmas is right around the corner, and because we have soooo many friends, we have some serious decisions to make.

Keeping in mind the old proverb that it's the thought that counts, we sought out the cheapest deals in Prague for the holiday season.

Welcome to Think Shopping Guide For the Poor and Well-intentioned.

To coin a new addage: it's not the size of your wad, it's how you shoot it.

EVERYTHING IS YOURS FOR 99 Kč (AND LESS! OR MORE.)
Sapacom.cz

Taking the typical Everything Under a Dollar-style shop and putting it on the internet can provide the occasional score. Rubber duckies in several sizes, cool clocks, zodiac coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, picture frames, spray bottles, coloring books, diamond-studded barretes, glitter nail polish, artificial plant life, more refrigerator magnets, back scratchers, air fresheners and so on. It's also got even cheaper deals to be found for after the holiday have completely wiped out your bank account. Don't you wish the heller still existed?

SHAKESPEARE AND SONS
U Lužického semináře 10, Praha 1 - Malá Strana, 118 00, www.shakespeareandsons.com, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Phone: +420 257 531 894

With an excellent selection of literature and university press imprints, this Vrsovice stable is the place to go for used books in many languages. Undecided? Ask the knowledgeable staff for their personal recommendations. Don't see what you want? Take advantage of Shakespeare's special order service, and you can shop online at Shakes.cz. The Prague Literary Review also makes an excellent stocking stuffer if you can find one!

THE PRAGUE MARKET (PRAŽSKÁ TRŽNICE)
Bubenské nábř. 306/13, 170 04 Praha 7, Czechia, www.prazska-trznice.cz

Pražská tržnice is a shopping paradise for the cheap in Central Prague. Need a switchblade? A table lighter? Or any other piece of ridiculous kitsch? This place is your answer. Nestled within the usual market tack, is a veritable Mammon's cave of bargains. However, you might have to spend the day to find a real steal. This is one of the few places in Prague where you can bargain on prices - whatever price you're quoted, cut it in half.

VIETNAMESE MARKET - MALEŠICE PRAGUE
By public transport: From Želivského or Depo Hostivař, take the 208 bus away from the city in the direction of Dolni Pocernice to stop Tiskařská. From Tiskařská stop, walk up the road about 50 meters to the driveway entrance (marked "Velkoobchod", or something similar).

This place is as close to Vietnam as you'll get in Central Europe. This massive, manic market beats the socks off any flea market in the Western Hemisphere. Buy literally anything on the cheap, from washing machines to DVD players to baby socks - all with forged brand names, but do you care? The outdoor market is a time-honored tradition in parts East; get a glimpse of the chaos of amazing foods from around the world, and in the tiny restaurants in the little alleys, enjoy a cheap, excellent bowl of noodles while you shop. On our first visit with an Asianfriend, we were told that access was granted to "Asians, those with dark skin, or Živnostenský list holders for retail businesses." We've walked and driven in dozens of times in the last 2-3 years without a problem, having only to present a Živnostenský list once. Just smile at the guards and walk/drive past.

PRAGUE THRIFT STORE
Budečská 893/13 · +420 775 709 757 and Dukelských Hrdinů 21, www.thriftshop.cz

Recycle, reduce and reuse is the motto here, and in these spacious shops, you can find a huge load of jackets and sweaters and pants and things that could rightly cost you a lot in other environs. But they're cheap, making a shopping spree here fun , unusual, and more importantly, cheap. Just like a good, down and dirty thrift store, you can turn up some real good bargains, kitschy things and many new items. The bargains are there and new stock is added daily. Just remember to launder before wrapping, or else you might be getting more than you think (just kidding, they clean everything before displaying).

ARBAT
Bubenečská 13, Praha 6, +420 603 166 298, www.russianshop.cz

There's no denying the Mafia mystique of this Russian shopping center, which is literally underground on the corner of Jaselská and Bubenská streets in Holešovice. Weed through Moscow's daily press a day late, get your shoes shined, buy dirt cheap air tickets to Moscow, and try to avoid the distinct impression of being followed. This is also one of the original sales points of Wizard-brand Medovník, arguably the finest honey cake made on the planet, and a Christmas meal in and of itself.

TV PRODUCTS
Rybná 4, 110 00 Praha 1, Czechia

Whoever told you that infomercials were an American phenomenon was a bigger liar than late night huckster Ron Popeil himself. The entire world loves salad shooters, abdominable exercisers, electric toothbrushes, and home electrolysis kits. Czechs are no exception, judging by this unlikely and fascinating bazarlike shop tucked behind Kotva. Bring a modest wad of cash and pick up an air mattress, a handheld steam cleaner, a few lint rollers, and an electric hair braider.

BAZAR
Chlumova 30 130 00 Prague Czech Republic Praha 3, Žižkov

Like any bazar, the quality of stuff you'll find on a regular basis is in the air. But this place is always packed with the weirdest, coolest knick knacks known to man. Combination alarm clock/calculator/thermometers, disco lights in all their glorious varieties, cool lamps, and ancient crap that's sure to make a great gift for that someone special with a great sense of humour. Everything you need to throw a great party or lighten up the room.

VENDELÍN
Vinohradská 1784/134, 130 00 Praha 3-Vinohrady, Czechia Phone: +420 272 740 408 www.vendelin.cz

Sure, its a kids clothing store, but they've got a great selection of toys, and with so many of your friends making babies while you're buzzing around a bar like a barfly, you'll score major points with something for the kiddies, or those friends who just refuse to grow up.

MUSIC ANTIQUARIAT CD-LP
Tržiště 519/22, 110 00 Malá Strana, Czechia www.musicantiquariat.cz

Walking past the smell from the pub next door, you'll find a music shop that will serve all your cheap aural needs. From the latest releases to obscure classical records, this place probably has what you're looking for in every conceivable formal. They also stock record players, stereo systems, and all the gadgets that any aspiring DJ will be collecting under the Christmas tree this season. A Rolling Stones album for 175Kč? You'll get your satisfaction!