The ultimate guide to selling your stuff in the Netherlands
One man’s poison is another man’s meat. We don’t need Oscar Wilde to tell us that. The environmental-conscious and the genetically frugal Dutch people has filled this country with many options to turn your “Spullen” (stuff) into some pocket money and a good conscience for having helped recycling still usable items laying about at your home or wedged between an old mattress and a broken washing machine in the cellar. Here is the list of places where you can unload your stuff in descending order of effort required. (5 being the maximum and most difficult while 1 being the easiest, simplest.)
Marktplaats – Effort level : 4
There are myriads of online marketplace where you can post your items and sell them for a fee. For the newbies to the country or online marketplaces, Marktplaats.nl is the place to go for everything from your used Opel to your wedding gown.
My Dutch friends have excellent experience with it but I have to say as an English speaker, it can be difficult to use because pure English descriptions will almost get your zero interest for your items unless you are giving away stuff for free. Also, Dutch customers are hard bargainers. They do not even start their bids for your item at fifty cents, they start by asking you to throw in a free HD flat-screen TV and deliver everything to their place to compensate for their inconvenience caused by the purchase of a pair of old branded underwear (an example of what people really sell on the platform) from you. That’s the kind of people that are bidding on Marktplaats. To close a deal successfully, I would say you need to possess some tenacity in just simply not giving in to their slash-throat approach.
Effort level for selling stuff on Marktplaats.nl is also quite high just simply based on the fact that you have to post your stuff one by one and discuss with potential customers, respond to bidders and arrange shipment or time and place of transactions. While not limited to Marktplaats but all online marketplaces, it’s worth noting that the whole process can be quite time-consuming and at times frustrating. It may take a couple of reposting before your items are discovered and subsequently successfully sold on Marktplaats. You may realize that you have instead found stuff you wish to buy off of other people’s hand instead after spending all these hours on the platform, so be warned.
Rent a “Kraam” (stall) in one of the thousands of neighborhood “Vlooienmarkt” (flea markets) – Effort Level : 3
There are two things that Dutch people like, all-you-can-eat buffets and yard sales. Since there are so many people interested in re-entering their stuff into the economic cycle, yard sales became hundreds of flea markets, run by organizations that go “on tour” with their brands of flea markets. If you do a search online with the search term “Vlooienmarkt” plus the name of the city you live in, you are bound to find a flea market near you in the near future. For your convenience, you may visit this brilliant website: http://www.vlooienmarktenkalender.nl/. There could be as many as twenty flea markets running on the same day around the country on a good day.
The idea of selling stuff on a flea market may repulse some people whose thought of flea market reminds them of fleas and any number of unpleasant things and odors. But so many regular Dutch people are doing it — women renting stalls with their best girlfriends to sell their clothes from last seasons and parents selling their growing kids’ relatively new used clothes, grandmas and granddads doing this as past-times, for example, that there is virtually no negative social stigma in the Netherlands on “peddling old stuff on the streets” (or in the park or in a hall. Locations differ depending on seasons.). The fact that there are so many flea markets around means you can unload your stuff all-year-around without having the wait for King’s Day (see next item on the list).
The catch is that usually, the markets are so popular you will need to book as soon as the organizers open spots up. Setting a calendar notification for registration date may be required in order for you to get a (decent) spot.
Needless to say, there is also a small cost associated with renting a “kraam”. Setting up according to the rules of the organizers, having to open shop the whole time period they stipulate and cleaning up can also be a hassle. But out of all options, selling stuff on flea market has been the most fun way of getting rid of old stuff I ever had.
Go on Facebook, join one of those buy-sell groups and post about your items…sounds easy enough. Many of us have experience doing that. From casual observations, two groups of people are especially interested in reading posts about a bargain, and they are students and expats — both in temporary living circumstances and suffer a constant need for stuff they would otherwise have access to when they could no longer just scream “Mom, help!” anymore and have their problems fixed just like that.
Participants in these groups are eager readers even when they do not necessarily respond. Facebook notification system made sure they will not miss a message from you. One downside with selling stuff on Facebook is many of these groups are public, making all your personal activities all out in the open, including your attempt to get rid of the candle stand you received from your friend last Christmas to her annoyance. The upside is you can buy almost everything on it…
King’s Day market is perhaps one of the coolest markets you will ever witness in your life. The whole Netherlands practically turns into an open marketplace on this day. The Dutch calls it the “Vrijmarkt” (free market). In some places, adults could be seen to mark the prime spots with chalk while kids could be seen out camping with their stuff since the early morning of King’s Day in order to get their favorite spots.
While there are always die-hard enthusiasts for everything, for regular sellers like you and I who likely just want to get rid of small quantity of stuff without spending too much effort, it should still be fine to get to the market between 9 to 10AM in the morning, especially when you live in the city where there are ample spaces in the various squares or parks and there should be no lacking of space for even the late-risers who partied past midnight drinking lots of cheap beers dancing to cheesy Dutch music with patriotic drunks dressed in complete orange. This is true only, of course, when the weather is good and it is not raining. On rainy days, which are 364 days of the year, you may indeed want to be there early and pick a good spot that is covered, for example, by awnings on the sides of buildings.
The thing with selling stuff on King’s Day is that the chance of you getting a good price for your stuff is relatively low, because practically everyone is out here, and your customers are just going to walk away if the price is not right and look for something else. Also, the chance of items being ruined by the rain or dirty mud kicked up from the road by crowds of people passing by is quite high, so go prepared, either mentally or physically (bring a transparent plastic sheet to cover your goods or put them on a table — but be prepared to scram quickly when the police tells you to if you have set up in the wrong place.)
Give them away on “Sinterklaas” (St. Nicolas) – Effort Level : 1
If your stuff is relatively new, you can, in fact, repackage them under nice looking fifty-cent gift-wrapping papers from HEMA and give them to your relatives and friends participating in the Sinterklaas “Pakjesavond” (presents evening). The key to getting rid of them without getting yourself in trouble is the ability to write a beautiful poem that rhymes explaining why you think your friends or relatives deserve (or need) the presents as convincingly as possible. Since on this night, people can exchange tens if not hundreds of small, trivial gifts with each other anywhere from a comb to a pack of batteries, they would not notice one or two items you have thrown in the pile that you have previously rightfully owned. Just make sure those are not the same things they gave to you the year before!