Vietnam’s “Heartbreak” Market

Like a flea market, but for items left behind after failed relationships (so, not really like a flea market it at all).

There’s a revolution unraveling within the youth culture of Vietnam. As one of the world’s oldest and most traditional cultures, many parts of Vietnam remain resistant to the cultural influence of the Western world. This presents a bit of an intersectionality dilemma within the millennial and youth culture of the ancient country, who are able to experience the world from vastly different perspectives than their ancestors previously did.

Vietnam is one of the few countries that still practice arranged marriages, among other outdated traditions. The younger generations, while many are not required to assume an arranged marriage, are fighting back against this custom. Led by passionate and determined young leaders, many Vietnamese citizens are creating their own ways of discovering love and connection, and learning how to cope with heartbreak along the way.

Enter: The Heartbreak Market

Young love is hard, and young heartbreak is even harder. Dinh Thang, the founder of the The Heartbreak Market, has developed a new platform for helping the heartbroken cope, reflect, and move on through his innovative swap-style market. Thang’s market is filled exclusively with items left behind after failed relationships; jewelry, picture frames, clothing, and even the most sentimental items are all for sale and looking for new hearts to fill with love. “After the break-ups, we found there were many objects left in our homes by old lovers, and we do not want to see them again since they remind us of unhappy memories. However, these things were still in good shape. It would harm the environment if we tossed them away. Then, we thought we should make an exchange with other people, so the objects would find new owners. They can buy new, good objects and we protect the environment. It’s a win-win,” Thang explains.

Pushing back against cultural norms, Thang had a rough start generating interest for buyers and sellers at his broken-hearted market, and even faced some criticism on profiting off of personal items. But, today the market is thriving and customers and ex-lovers are finding that the market serves as a place of closure, inspiration, and renewal. His goal is to normalize topics such as dating, relationships, and breakups, and remove the ‘taboo’ stigma that surrounds these conversations today in Vietnam.

While his creation may appear controversial to some, most are welcoming to the idea, and have found their own comfort in participating in Thang’s Heartbreak Market.

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