Czech Republic: Bankrot

This is the tenth installment in a series of essays by globe-trotter Kevin Nguyen, who is currently studying at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. Suffering from the falling U.S. dollar, Kevin goes Christmas shopping at the country’s strangest chain of bargain stores.

There are dollar stores and then there is Bankrot, a place so strange and quirky that it could only be found in the Czech Republic (and probably other Eastern European countries).

Even the name Bankrot makes me think of my decaying savings account, communicating that this is a shopping experience that will literally waste away my money. Honestly, they really couldn’t have picked a worse name for a store, unless they went with “Emporium of Stupid Shit,” which actually rolls of the tongue better than “Bankrot” does.

The stuff they sell ranges from outright bizarre to borderline offensive.

Similarly peculiar are the people who work there. All of them are in their mid to late fifties, and they expressed their disdain when my roommate tried to take pictures. He tried to be a stealthy photographer, but they eventually noticed and kicked him out of the store. In hindsight, the sheer amount of illegally produced merchandise–for example, a children’s fishing set with Finding Nemo characters sans Disney endorsement–would threaten the existence of this fine retailer.

Still, we defied the wishes of Bankrot employees to show you some of our favorite oddities. All photos are courtesy of Nathan Wieland.

Bankrot - Animatronic Santa

To celebrate the holiday season, they’ve got an animatronic Santa Claus greeting you at the door. In theory, it’s not a bad idea, but this thing is fucking terrifying. This jolly old bastard sways its hips back and forth while it sings a rock ‘n roll rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Nothing says “Welcome to Bankrot” like a robotic St. Nicholas that looks like a rapist.

Bankrot - Underwear

Also by the entrance is an odd assortment of undergarments, which I suppose is pretty handy if you need to get in, buy a pair of red reptile-print boy shorts, and get out fast.

Bankrot - Faux Antique Pistol

This framed faux antique pistol is probably one of the more useful items on sale at Bankrot. In fact, I’d recommend carrying this giant thing around any city as a safety precaution. If some hooligan attempts to mug you, just break the glass and load the pistol. There are even two bullets provided for you. I’m not sure why, but this thing was next to the underwear.

Bankrot - Give You A Surprise

Bankrot - Candles

Halloween is a year-round affair at Bankrot. Popping out of wooden boxes labeled “Give You A Surprise” are these scary-ass monsters. These candles are also fairly romantic if your girlfriend happens to be a former member of Kittie or is named Tabitha.

Bankrot - retarded dancing Christmas tree

Still, the most blood-curdling item for sale at Bankrot is, hands down, this Christmas tree. Like the Santa Claus at the storefront, this little guy dances and sings, but there’s something sinister in its seemingly harmless jingle. Perhaps it’s the brown lips agape, blank expression, or the simple fact that I’m looking at a retarded dancing Christmas tree from hell. This could give Chuckie a run for his money. Anthropomorphism at its scariest.

Bankrot - Crap bins

A series of bins in the middle of the store carries all sorts of crap, though there were a few gems, including a keychain that made three different orgasm noises. I bought it, of course.

Bankrot - Dancing dolls

These dolls were probably the most offensive items in the store. (Apparently Bankrot specializes in dancing electronics.) When turned on, they sway and sing along to a reggae tune. Of course, they’re scantily-clad, smoking pot, and singing about getting high.

Bankrot - Ashtray

I’m not sure what’s more alarming about this ashtray: the monstrous rubber penis or the ironically placed no-smoking sign. Oh no, wait. I’m pretty sure it’s the monstrous rubber penis.

Bankrot - Gun-knife

For 799 Kč (just over $40), you can give your loved ones exactly what they want this holiday season. This gift, of course, is a set that includes an ashtray, necklace, and a fake pistol with a knife attached to the front of it. I can’t imagine anyone opening this and saying anything other than, “A gun-knife and an ashtray in the same box? Fuck yeah!”. If giving this gift to Tabitha doesn’t get you laid, you should probably check your pulse.

Read more from Czech Republic.

Kevin Nguyen is a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau. His only marketable skill is an above-average knowledge of European geography. He has been useless since the introduction of the atlas in 1477. Reach him by email or follow his Twitter account.