Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kringloopwinkel: It is alright to shop at Charity Shops in the Netherlands

The popular charity shop in the Netherlands is the Salvation Army (Leger des Heils) but for us locals we call it the ‘Kringloopwinkel’. Every city, town and a big enough village has a kringloopwinkel. In Utrecht there are several kringloopwinkels but perhaps the most famous that gets a lot of popularity mileage is the one at the Oudegracht in the centre of the city. Mainly because of its location.

The Kringloopwinkel in Oudegracht is huge, they are in several buildings on street and wharf levels with each having its own department of specialty items.

The sober mentality of the Dutch

The Netherlands is a country that is sober when it comes to materialism and showing off money and power. From where I come from (Philippines) and I guess from most places outside the Netherlands and moreover outside Europe, people are often critically attached to status and power, and equating one’s worth based on the signature brands they wear, the type of car they drive and how big their house is. It doesn’t matter if everything is on loan and there is no money left in the bank, as long we look good outside huh? I tell you, I am sure I am not the only one who has a massive pet peeve with this kind of silly mentality.

It was quite a breath of fresh air when I moved here in the lowlands more than a decade ago. The Dutch as a whole are the least materially inclined people I have ever known and who abhor the display of status and power like the plague. Just look at the pitiable luxury street we have in Amsterdam, the PC Hooftstraat compared to the rest of the world. It is laughable and does not come close to a 10th even of the luxury shops in Manila.

So in the Netherlands, you don’t want to be caught dead bragging about material, money and power related stuff. It does not only leave a bad taste in the mouth, but it’s seen as bad manners as well, and bad conduct; it is just not done. The Dutch are not impressed with your money, power, your Hermes bag and Porsche Carrera cabriolet, they are more concerned about how you behave. There is a saying here that is taken seriously by everyone, ‘Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg.’ Which means—Just be your normal self because being yourself is already crazy enough.

And the really rich people here? They do not brag, or rather, are afraid to brag lest their heads be cut off by the prevailing mentality of the majority—Behave yourself, be normal.

This mentality has kind of rub me, in a good way though.

Now why I am saying this? Because it means that going shopping in a charity shop does not mean you are destitute in the Netherlands. People with money come here all the time. There’s no stigma attached to it really, although many less privileged ones do come here to buy stuff, of course. As they say, ‘One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.’

Moreover, this is the Netherlands and this is Europe. There are so many old items ranging from furniture, kitchen and home accessories to paintings that just go to the Salvation Army without the inkling that they could be real antiques and could have been worth thousands instead of a meagre 10 euros. It happens all the time.

My sister-in-law who has great taste love kringloopwinkels that she is now visiting every kringloopwinkel in town. I might just go with her, who knows I might just bump into a very cool find!

To find the nearest kringloopwinkel in your town in the Netherlands, go here: Kringloopwinkels in Nederland

You want a cheap second hand bike? Come here.

Oh wow, they even have a design centre for modern, classic and antique furniture! =)

Nicely merchandised as well, don't you agree? Great place to hunt for period furnitures. I actually found a beautiful chair that reminds me of the Napoleon chair in Bilthoven's kringloopwinkel but had to let it go as I did not know where to have it repaired.

This one is the clothes and accessories shop. There are many signature brands and vintage ones as well here that you can find, if you just have the patience (and skill) to rummage through. 

Visit Period: November 2013
Destination: Utrecht Centre (Utrecht), The Netherlands

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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