What I Learned My First Time Polish Pottery Shopping

Polish Pottery Shopping is something everyone seems to do when they live in Europe. The prices are so cheap in Bolesławiec, where the pottery is made.  I really wasn’t prepared for this trip.  How hard could it be go just go shopping all day?  Well, kinda overwhelming.  Next time I’ll be much better prepared!  Here are some tips:

Start your day early. Preferably get a hotel in Bolesławiec the night before. You want to maximize your shopping time and driving in the morning of is not the best. Stefan and I got up really early and drove from our house. We got into Bolesławiec around 10 am and it was a mad house. The tour buses had arrived, the stores were crowded, and it was stressful trying to dig through the piles of pottery. As the day went on and the buses left it was much more enjoyable for me. We were told that early morning and afternoon are the least crowded times.

Know what you’re looking for beforehand. Making a list of things you want to purchase is incredibly helpful. Once you get into a store it can be overwhelming and you’ll quickly forget what you came for. I had a list typed up on my phone which I was able to check off. Very helpful!
Decide on your pattern. Or don’t. Know before you go if you want everything to be the same pattern or if you will mix and match. I didn’t decide this before going and it was a tad stressful. I wish I would have decided sooner though, because I passed a lot of cute items up because I didn’t know if I wanted all my pottery to look the same! I finally decided to do a combination of both. For example, my tea set is all one pattern, but my other items are mixed. I want to go back and get a dinnerware set. I’d like all that to match.

Make time to go to all of the stores! Each store is unique and all of them deserve to be given time. I hear of some people who only go to a handful of shops that are popular with Americans. While they still get beautiful pottery, they often pay a higher price and miss out on some beautiful prints they could get at the smaller shops. A map is available here.  If you click on the points on the map the address of the store will come up. If you stay at the Blue Beetroot they also will hand you a paper map to follow.

Know the quality (Gat) rating and what it means.
Gat 1: No imperfections. Can be used in the dishwasher, oven, and microwave. Gat 2: May have a stray brush stroke (often unnoticeable). Can be used in the dishwasher, oven and microwave.
Gat 3: May have a crack in the glaze
Gat 4: may have a chip
Gat 5: Decorative only. Not to be used in dishwasher, oven, or microwave.
The prices of your pieces will fluctuate depending on the Gat. I will only buy Gat 1 and 2.

Pay with a credit card. I use our travel CC for everything. There are no foreign transaction fees, I get a really nice exchange rate, and I don’t have to worry about finding and taking the correct amount of money out of an ATM. Every store we went to took card. Make sure you have the shop owner charge your card in Zloty and not in Euro or USD. You’ll get a better rate buying in Zloty.
Bring boxes/laundry baskets to carry your goodies home in. While every store will wrap your items in paper and place them in a bag, we found that having a box or something to corral everything in was a great idea. Things weren’t as likely to roll and break on the way home!

Make it worthwhile for your husband. Mine was kind enough to drive me and shop all day for pottery with only minimal complaining. Each trip I plan I try to make sure I include something especially for him. This trip I took him to Stan’s Antiques. He has lots of WWII treasures that Stefan spent a good hour or so browsing. He even purchased some. He said that made the long day pottery shopping worth it.
Make sure you eat at Opałkowa Chata. This is such a great restaurant! I got pierogies and Stefan got a meat plate with 3 different kinds of meat. So yummy!

Make sure you stop in at a Polish Grocery store! We went to get some snacks for the trip back, but I ended up grabbing some other foods as well. The prices were so much cheaper than we have in Germany, so I also got some stuff we needed at the store anyway. You can also buy frozen pierogies that you can enjoy at home.

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