|A few things I've bought at Aphrodite|
#16-1-3 Section 6 Minquan East Road, Neihu Dist.
Taipei 114 Taiwan
Directions: Take a bus heading over Minquan Bridge (民權大橋) and get off at the first stop in Neihu (the stop is called "Minquan Bridge", in Chinese "Minquan Da Qiao"). You'll see Aphrodite on the right as you come off the bridge. After alighting, walk back to the bridge entrance and Aphrodite is on the left after the store selling chi-chi glass decorations and the expensive Chinese furniture store.
Side note, across the street from that bus stop is Miro Furniture - expensive, but great if you want good-quality wooden furniture with a sort of Indian, Middle Eastern, Silk Road flair.
I teach once a week in this part of Neihu, between Minquan Bridge and the Costco and giant RT Mart. It's fantastic, because although the area has very little - I couldn't even find a pharmacy once when I had a headache, and it was impossible to find food anywhere other than the Barista Coffee when the 7-11 was under renovation - it's perfect if I need to stop at B&Q or RT Mart after class.
That's how I found Aphrodite. I'd passed it on the bus hundreds of times, and seen the sign for the "Europe Flea Market" [sic], and the interesting, thrift-store style stuff outside. One day, looking for apartment decoration, I decided to pop in after class. I've also explored the other furniture stores in the area - there's some good stuff for those who don't mind looking for hours on end and who have budgets that can stretch beyond IKEA.
This place is a secondhand store in the truest sense of the word: only the brightly colored crystal drink and wine glasses appeared to be "new", everything else is genuinely aged or used, some of it genuine antique or vintage, some of it thrift-store-tacular. It's not as cheap as an American Goodwill, but not as expensive as the Treasure Hunt Flea Market near MRT Guting, from where we also obtained some of the items decorating our home.
The main difference is that Aphrodite really does mostly import its treasures from abroad, mostly Europe. At Treasure Hunt, you'll find old Taiwanese and Chinese antiques and vintage items, including old boxes, baskets, wood carvings, teacups, sake sets and more "Asian" stuff. At Aphrodite, you'll find European glassware (much of it the kind of thing you'd find on Great Aunt Crappadocia's credenza, which you used to think was lame but now think is totally cool and retro), espresso sets, vases, copper and brass items, plateware and other random stuff that comes more from the West than the East. This isn't the place to go if you want to make your apartment look like the Formosa Vintage Museum Cafe (which, come on, I not-so-secretly do want to do) - it's the place to go for the kind of cool secondhand stuff you'd decorate with back home.
The part of the store near the main entrance sells mostly small items at prices under NT$1000 - this is where I picked up my blue glass vase, liqueur glasses and wooden coasters, above. The vase was NT95, the glasses NT60 each and the coasters, genuinely antique and worth "something", were NT195 each.
There are copper vases and pots that run a few thousand kuai, furniture that is really expensive, and tons of funky, retro European inexpensive ceramicware that looks like the stuff at your grandma's place, which she got from her mother who was an immigrant from Germany. There are some true finds - old copper pitchers, real crystal - and lots of cheaper, funky stuff if you just want to pick up something fun.
Prices are a bit unpredictable - a seemingly modest little copper creamer pot can be several hundred kuai, whereas those adorable liqueur glasses I scored were really dirt cheap. You just never know.
When I first popped in to Aphrodite, it was nearly empty, and again the time after that. I thought I'd found a truly undiscovered gem. The past few times I've been here, however, there have been many more people - almost all of them locals (not expats). The best stuff is selling more quickly - I'd actually wanted far more ornate wooden coasters but by the time I returned, they were gone. On the "SOLD" shelf was an impossibly beautiful copper watering pitcher with a brass lion's head and decorated with red, blue and aqua-green stones or resin dots (I couldn't tell which from a distance). I would give my left nut for that pitcher, but it's gone. I'm in love with the colorful crystal chunky French wine glasses (I would get a set in hot pink, bright tangerine and lime) but can't justify spending NT$485 each on them when I already have plenty of wine glasses.
So get yourself over there, and if you see something you like, buy, don't dally.