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 have filled this country with many options to turn your spullen (stuff) into some pocket money.
It’s also a good conscience for having helped to recycle still usable items lying about at your home. Here is the list of places where you can unload your stuff in descending order of effort required.
Selling your stuff on Marktplaats
There are many online marketplaces where you can post your items and sell them for a fee. Marktplaats is the place to go for everything from your used Opel to your wedding gown for the newbies to the country or online marketplaces.
My Dutch friends have excellent experience with it. However, I have to say as an English speaker, it can be difficult to use. English descriptions will almost get you zero interest in your items unless you give 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 the inconvenience caused by purchasing a pair of old branded underwear (an example of what people sell on the platform) from you.
That’s the kind of people that are bidding on Marktplaats. How to close a deal successfully? You need to possess some tenacity in just simply not giving in to their slash-throat approach.
The effort level for selling stuff on Marktplaats is also quite high, just because 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, it’s worth noting that the whole process can be quite time-consuming. It may take a couple of reposts before people discover your items subsequently buy them. It’s frustrating, so be warned!
Selling your stuff on a rented kraam at a vlooienmarkt
There are two things that Dutch people like, all-you-can-eat buffets and yard sales. Since so many people are 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 want to sell your things, you can rent a kraam (stall) and have a comfortable place to sell your belongings. You can check the flea market calendar for when the next flea market closest to you will be. There could be as many as twenty flea markets running on the same day around the country on a good day.
Why a flea market?
The idea of selling stuff on a flea market may repulse some people whose thought of flea markets reminds them of fleas and any number of unpleasant things and odours. But many regular Dutch people are doing it, such as women renting stalls with their best girlfriends to sell their clothes from the last seasons. Parents also are selling their growing kids’ relatively new used clothes. Grandmas and granddads do this as past times.
For example, there is virtually no negative social stigma in the Netherlands on peddling old stuff on the streets. (Or in the park or 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 round. This is without having to wait for King’s Day, of course. (See next item on the list).
The catch is the markets are so popular you will need to book as soon as the organizers open spots. Setting a calendar notification for the registration date may require 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 organizers’ rules, opening shop the whole period they stipulate and cleaning up can also be a hassle. But out of all options, selling stuff on the flea market has been the most fun way of getting rid of old stuff I ever had.
Selling your stuff on Facebook
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: students and expats.
Both live in temporary living circumstances and suffer a constant need for stuff they would otherwise have access to when they could no longer scream “Mom, help!” anymore and have their problems fixed just like that.
Facebook notification system made sure they would not miss a message from you. Participants in these groups are eager readers even when they do not necessarily respond.
One downside with selling stuff on Facebook is that many of these groups are public, making all your activities all out. This includes 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.
Try selling your stuff in the Netherlands on “Koningsdag” (King’s Day)
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 call it the vrijmarkt (free market). In some places, adults could be seen to mark the prime spots with chalk. Kids could be seen camping with their stuff to get spots.
While there are always die-hard enthusiasts for everything, for regular sellers like you and I who likely want to get rid of a small quantity of stuff without spending too much effort, it should still be fine to get to the market between nine to 10 AM.
This is especially so when you live in the city with ample spaces in the various squares/parks. There should be no lacking 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. You may want to be there early on rainy days (364 days of the year). To pick a good spot that is covered. 😉 For example, by awnings on the sides of buildings.
King’s Day tips
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. Therefore 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 tell you to if you have set up in the wrong place.)
Selling your stuff in the Netherlands: give them away during Sinterklaas (St. Nicolas)
If your stuff is relatively new, you can 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).
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!
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.
What are your experiences with selling your belongings? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Junk/Wikimedia Commons
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2017, and was fully updated in February 2022 for your reading pleasure.