Being called cheap or frugal can be an insult to some, but our bargain-hunting mama, Becky Churilla, wears the label with pride. After six years of scouring the city's vintage and second-hand shops, she shares her favorites with Amsterdam Mamas.
One of my favorite things to do growing up was to go to yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets with my mom, buzzing with excitement when we’d come home with a particularly good find (and recounting how I acquired said item to anyone who would listen).
So one of the first things I did when I moved to Amsterdam was to set about finding my go-to vintage stores and second-hand shops; a search that, luckily, turned up a lot of results due to the fact that recycling and upcycling is embedded in the culture here.
The list is not exhaustive but comprised of my personal favorites, recommendations, and places I know by reputation. There are always small second-hand shops popping up all over the city so please tell us your favorite if you don’t see it on the list. If you don’t first see a well-known store listed in a particular neighborhood below, check the Multiple Locations section.
Antique mall Antiekcentrum (formerly de Looier) deserves a spot on the list as it’s a must visit for its sheer size (it stretches over the entire block of buildings between Looiersgracht and Elandsgracht and boasts of having over 10.000 items in stock) and carefully curated collections. Great spot to take antique lovers who are visiting the city.
Vintage designer clothing, inspired second-hand pieces, like-new samples and a large assortment of new and used leather bags make up the selection at Callas 43. No website available.
Wolvenstraat 6 and 7
Specializing in clothing from the 1950’s, Laura Dols has a selection of dresses, women’s and men’s evening wear imported from Los Angeles, hats, shoes, purses, and accessories. The store also sells vintage costumes for children ages 0-10, various articles made of old linen and antique wedding dresses.
Haarlemmerstraat 99 -A
With styles from the 1940’s and up, Rumors offers restyled vintage dresses, shorts, shirts, jewelry, and other accessories.
Second Best buys and sells vintage second-hand men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories.
Wini equates vintage with quality and style, offering a selection of well-made and designed clothing that won’t fall out of fashion.
Albert Cuypstraat 99
Carnaby Street is very focused in sourcing the stock that it offers: pair after pair of boots, coats, scarves, ponchos, hats, and other accessories. It’s not cheap, but you are sure to find a unique vintage item (like the ski hat from the Innsbruck Winter Olympics I bought for my husband) that will inspire a lot of compliments and inquiries as to where you got it. No website available.
Albert Cuypstraat 161
I was very happy to discover Kwinkel years ago as the store offers a good mix of brands from the U.S., UK, France, Netherlands, and more. I find the prices to be mostly fair in terms of price/quality ratio. They also have a good selection of baby gear, vintage toys and books, and new items.
Van Woustraat 99
I have passed by Ladyland many times but have never been in. As its name indicates and an online search confirms, they sell inexpensive women’s clothing.
Van Woustraat 116
De Klederij is a small shop that sells women’s and children’s clothing. I consistently find cute jeans, sweaters, coats, and shoes for my sons here. Perhaps it’s a case of the grass is always greener, but I feel like the selection is even better for girls. I have also bought shoes and shirts for myself here over the years.
Venten is a recent addition to de Pijp that sells a mix of new home accessories (their dishes are particularly cute) and second-hand clothes for women and children.
Daniel Stalpertstraat 97
If you are looking for high-quality, mid-century and beyond (1930’s-1980’s) design furniture and accessories, Vintage Home is worth a visit, or two or three, as its inventory frequently changes. The shop is meant to feel more like a gallery rather than a furniture store, and that comes through its cool vibe.
Recommended by a mom from my sons’ school, Allerlei thrift shop sells toys, books, and home accessories. They are located close to De Ruilhoek (below) so you can visit both in one trip.
This small shop next to Praxis has a flea market feel, so if you’re looking for inexpensive dishes, books, games, toys, shoes, clothing, electronics, or small pieces of furniture, check it out. The right side of the store has a selection of paint and other building materials. No website available.
Owned by a friend of a friend, De Ruilhoek is one of the largest second-hand clothing shops in Amsterdam and is known for its selection of women’s and men’s high-end clothing, shoes, accessories and bags. You can also sell items there on a consignment basis, provided they are authentic top brands, in great condition and are currently in style. If you can’t make it there in person, you can shop at their online store.
A consignment shop in the Scheldebuurt that sells name-brand women’s and children’s clothing.
Size matters at OVERENWEER. The consignment shop accepts mid- to high-end brand women’s clothing in sizes 36 t/m 48 and men’s clothing in sizes 48 t/m 54.
NDSM Wharf, TT Neveritaweg 15
Billed as the largest fleamarket in Europe, Ij Hallen is a must visit for any thrifter. If you are looking for that something you have to have when you see it, you will likely find it there. There are two halls to walk through so allow for enough time to work your way through (and wear warm shoes if you go on a cold day). Entrance fee is 5,00EUR for visitors over the age of 12 and 2,00 for kids 11 and younger.
If you have items to sell, you can rent a stand for 30,00EUR/day (35,00EUR/day for a corner stand).
This is one of those places (along with its neighbor, Van Dijk & Ko, below) I have heard about for years and have yet to make it there, unfortunately (one day!). Neef Louis is a long-time destination for ‘liefhebbers’ and lovers of vintage and industrial design.
Van Dijk & Ko’s 2500m2 is filled with dressers, couches, buffets and office furniture from around Europe. They also have a wide assortment of glassware, salvaged building materials, and garden furniture.
The first time I visited Ari the store, I was greeted by Ari the owner, a friendly and charismatic man who confidently told me, “this is the best store in Amsterdam”. I haven’t been to every store in Amsterdam to compare, but I do know it’s my favorite place to poke around in hopes of finding that next conversation piece (I was excited to give my children an old View Master I found there). Packed to the rafters with lighting fixtures, lamps, dishes, framed pictures, pottery, vintage children’s toys, small pieces of furniture, clothing, and sunglasses, Ari reflects Ari’s zest for life and is worth squeezing through. Some of my favorite accessories in my apartment are from Ari. He and his wife are a pleasure to talk to and always offer a good deal when you show up to pay with an armful of items. No website, call 06 527 111591 before you go to make sure they are open.
Bosboom Toussainstraat 49
Wollepop has a great reputation for children’s items and clothing. I like their selection but find their prices a bit high for second-hand (this is coming from a self-identified cheapskate).
I follow Vintage Virus on their Facebook page. They have a nice selection of vintage design furniture from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Their physical store is in Zuid Oost.
Spiegelstraat 61, Berenstraat 1, Waterlooplein 1, Spuistraat 96
With a presence in five European countries, Episode is on a mission to spread sustainable clothing production and purchasing practices. The company buys clothing that is donated to charities around the world, then washes, repairs, and even redesigns pieces, before selling them in their stores.
Van Woustraat 4 and Rozengracht 204-210
The sister location of the original store in de Jordaan, Hutspot in de Pijp has a small selection of second-hand furniture, as well as beautiful new home accessories. I go there for inspiration as I find their prices to be exorbitant compared to what I know I can find with a little bit of searching on Marktplaats, but it’s fun to walk around or have a coffee with a friend on the comfortably arranged furniture.
Amsterdam: Postjeskade 23 en 25, Zeeburgerpad 90-99, Papaverweg 17-25, Kerkstraat 354
This string of thrift shops has various-sized stores, with varying inventories, throughout Amsterdam.
1e Oosterparkstraat 236, Distelweg 85, Buikslotermeerplein 2
This thrift shop is a regular spot on my rounds, as new inventory is constantly added. There is a good selection of English language books and I have found many board games here over the years, as well as an old Spirograph for my kids. I also buy a lot of flower pots, planters, and serving dishes here.
Haarlemmerdijk 64, Ferdinand Bolstraat 28, Staalstraat 30
With three locations around the city, Marbles bills itself as “the best hand-picked vintage items in town”.
Haarlemmerdijk 139-C, Bilderdijkstraat 90
At SAM SAM’s Haarlemmerdijk shop, you can find used and new women’s brand-name clothing, bags, jewelry, and other accessories. The Bilderdijkstraat location sells vintage clothing for men and women, furniture, and home accessories.
When my family and I moved into the apartment that we purchased, we moved from a fully furnished rental to a nearly empty space as we left all of our furniture in our house in the States. We had a short amount of time to start filling the apartment and preparing for the arrival of our second child, as I was eight and a half months pregnant at the time. Since the majority of furniture stores have delivery times of three to six months (or longer), I finally took the plunge and started using Marktplaats to find things that were immediately available. This turned into a goal of buying nearly all second-hand items for the apartment, which I’ve accomplished, save for a few rugs, window treatments, and bedding. Over five painstaking years later, our apartment is nearly complete and the majority of the furniture in it is from Marktplaats, including the kitchen island, an almost new couch, a bunk bed for my sons (as well as their junior beds), and a set of beautiful Danish drawers.
I have read negative experiences about using Marktplaats, but this has not been the case for me. I can only think of one or two times when a seller backed out of a deal and I’ve always received any item I paid for in advance. Back in my very early days of using the site, I went to pick up an adorable orange-framed mirror for my bedroom and when I went to pay, the seller refused to take any money. I don’t know why he did that, but it makes me smile every time I look at the mirror.
A few quick tips for buying on Marktplaats: if you really want an item and are willing to pay the asking price or a bit more, email the seller directly. Sellers want to deal with motivated buyers, and a direct message usually saves time over going through the bidding process. If you are like me and do not have a car, negotiate the cost of delivery or postage into the price. As far as emailing in Dutch or English, either is fine, but I usually handle the correspondence in Dutch because I feel that gives me a better position from which to negotiate. Also, many antique dealers and shops are on Marktplaats so if you strike up a relationship, the dealers will look for items on your behalf and you can negotiate a one-time delivery fee of multiple items (I did this with a shop in Belgium when I bought our dining table, chairs and lighting fixtures.).
AYS! is a popular Facebook group, with an array of clothing, shoes, furniture, electronics, caravans—you name it—and more than its share of cat photos. You have to be dedicated to checking the group as items are sold on a first in line basis, but I am wowed consistently by the uniqueness, quality, and design of some of the items being sold in the group. The desk and set of filing drawers in my office are from AYS! and I sold my sons’ beds there. My experiences with both buying and selling have been very positive.
Streets of Amsterdam:
A country-wide yard sale, King’s Day is the Super Bowl of thrifting. I set out early each year, scouring various neighborhoods for whatever I am in current need of (for me, it’s easier if I am focused on looking for one or two categories of items: either books for my children, clothes, toys, or items for the apartment). Apollolaan is a popular destination – I find it crowded and the prices more expensive than other parts of the city, BUT there are many antique dealers to be found there, so it’s worth a trip for that. This year, my big score was buying three framed paintings from a woman whose father-in-law was a prolific painter. For children’s toys and books, I prefer Sarphatipark as the prices are cheaper, and it feels more gezellig.
I liken the recycling bin near our house (on the west side of Sarphatipark by Cafe Sarphaat) to the give-a-penny-take-a-penny trays at convenience stores in the U.S. Often times when I drop off items, I find something I want to bring home, like the pristine German pottery vase that currently sits on our dining table or the cool metal shopping baskets that now hold toys. To make searching for such gems even easier, the TOFvuil Facebook group is dedicated to posting pictures and locations of curbside finds throughout the city. They also occasionally show before and after pictures of items that have been rescued and fixed up.
Ready to Get Used?!
And that’s it … for now, as we will continue to add to the list. If you’ve been inspired to give second-hand shopping a first look, or are already a fellow thrifter or lover of vintage, send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Becky Churilla is a freelance writer. She lives in Amsterdam with her husband and two sons.