Buying second hand clothes is great! It’s great because everything is unique, it’s cheap and it’s more sustainable (yay for less child labour!). However, if you’re like me, you’ve probably noticed something strange about the vintage/second hand shops you can find in central Amsterdam... They look the same!! I mean, sure, you may only find those retro Adidas sneakers in blue AND with purple geometric shades on the outer rubber in that one shop, but somehow the theme of the clothes is the same in whatever Episode/We Are Vintage/Kilo shop you find yourself in.
Leather jackets, glitter tops, used Adidas/Nike/New Balance/Allstars sneakers, a couple of Dr. Martens, Lee/Levis jeans cut to shorts with the pockets sticking out, Norwegian woolen sweaters, army jackets that have never been near the actual army and some silk shirts in colourful patterns. It’s all the same in these places. And it’s expensive, considering I expect the clothes to have been worn by a stranger before it came in my possession. So, what to do? Don't worry, I’ve got you covered.
Here are five (and a half) proper second hand shops (in Dutch: kringloopwinkel) in Amsterdam:
Rataplan. Van Slingelandtstraat 39.
Rataplan is a well organised three story shop near Westerpark. On the bottom floor, you can find furniture and books (also in English), on the first floor clothes and shoes (men, women and children) and the top floor is filled with cups, plates, cooking equipment, electronics etc. There’s a changing room (and a mirror!) and a section with reduced prices (e.g. jeans for 1€!).
At Het Juttersdok you can find everything: clothes, kitchen stuff, Christmas decorations (all year around), bikes, VHS players, fax machines, etc. It’s is a wonderful mess. On every floor. I have yet to find a price tag on individual items, instead you should look after general prices on big pieces of paper (but hey, maybe it’s changed by now – this place is lively). Take your time, because it is the least organised of all the shops on my list, but it contains a low of hidden gems.
The Salvation Army runs this cosy shop near Oosterpark. Someone is always having a chat with the person behind the counter. This is a well organised and clean shop, mostly with clothes (both men and women, not for children) with a small section for books and kitchen equipment. Here a hat is 0.5€, a cardigan is 3€ and you can get a funky pair of jeans for 4.5€. They often have a sale at the end of each season, where you really can get some nice things for cheap.
De Locatie. Eerste Oosterparkstraat 236.
This is another well organised shop, also near Oosterpark (right next to Bar Bukowski for the connoisseurs). This place has a little of everything; clothes in the back (neatly organised by colour), furniture and kitchen equipment in the front, as well as shoes and books.
Mevius. Loods 1, Havenstraat 3.
Mevius is a peculiar shop. This giant warehouse contains everything – but it’s not exactly second hand. Mevius sells the leftover stock of shops that are closing, as well as whatever people no longer want in their own homes, and sell it for a low price. Which means that this place contains the weirdest mix of furniture, wine, clothes, knitted “I<3Amsterdam” hats, antique statues of roman philosophers, Egyptians carpets, lavender-themed gift boxes – you name it! Often you find one item in enormous quantities. For example, 500 doctors’ coats or 300 blue overalls (only in size XXL).
IJ-Hallen. Tt. Neveritaweg 15.
IJ-Hallen is not a regular shop, it’s a monthly weekend-flea market in Amsterdam-Noord (with a small entrance fee). In fact, it’s the biggest in Europe! Two massive old industrial halls as well as the pavement in between the two halls are turned into one big flea market, with a couple of food stands sprinkled around (try the poffertjes). The market is located near the NDSM-Werf ferry stop, which takes you to and from Centraal in 10 minutes. While you’re there, you might as well check out some of the other cool places in that area, e.g. Noorderlicht Café. If you stay till the end, you can be sure to get the best deals.
About the author:
A Dane who bikes with a helmet. Currently working on my Master thesis in Earth Sciences. Trying to make better choices as a consumer and to experience what Amsterdam and the Netherlands have to offer.