Go on a treasure hunt

Second hand shopping is not for everyone, but there are many advantages to it. Think about sustainability, price and the fun of finding an item you’ve been looking for for ages!

By Anita Nánási

If you are new to the Netherlands and haven’t heard of kringloopwinkels yet, let me introduce them: these are the places to go when you want to get rid of your unused items, or when you’re looking for good value items. These places work like charity shops or thrift stores: people can drop off items that are in good condition. After being sorted, lightly repaired, cleaned and priced by the store workers, they will go up for sale. And that’s where the treasure hunt starts!

Environmental and social impact
One of the first reasons that comes to people’s minds to go second hand shopping is to reduce mass production. It’s a fair point. Many of us have things that we may have bought on impulse but don’t use anymore – just think about that cocktail dress or fancy waistcoat that seemed like a good idea at the time for the next party. Besides the fact that thrift shopping reduces overconsumption, has less impact on the environment and is way cheaper, the Dutch kringloopwinkels have a social goal as well: “A kringloopwinkel can offer employment to people with a distance to the labour market or function as a meeting place for local residents” (, which I experience through a smile, lots of enthusiasm and a chit chat every time I find something nice.

Velour jumpsuit and house slippers
The quality of the different shops varies, but my philosophy is that treasure lies everywhere if you are persistent enough to find it. And what can you find in a kringloopwinkel? Literally anything! Some places specialise in clothing, furniture or toys. These are usually specially selected items which makes your chances of finding what you’re looking for way bigger. One time my husband asked me to bring a wine rack, if I happened to fine one. I found so many that I couldn’t choose, and of course for a quarter of the price of a new one. This comes in handy if you just moved to Utrecht and don’t have any furniture or household items and also don’t have an endless budget to spend on your new place. It’s easy to equip your home with nice furniture, cutlery, glassware and even some decorative items for the price of a lunch in a restaurant. My advice? Head out with a treasure hunter’s mind and you will find what you are looking for! I’ll happily list my favourite kringloopwinkels to browse around. See you there and happy shopping!

How to ‘kringloop’ efficiently?
1) Write a list of items you would like to purchase
2) Check out the kringloopwinkels in your neighbourhood (a Google Maps search is very useful)
3) Walk around with a wide open eye and mind
4) Persistence is key! Haven’t found what your were looking for? Don’t give up! Go back every week, or every other week. You never know when someone drops off the thing you want the most!


Kringloopwinkels De ARM Oudegracht

If you’ve ever walked along the Oudegracht you have definitely seen these places. They stock selected items, priced individually. The set up is lovely and fashionable so it’s easy to oversee what’s on offer. There are two shops next to each other and another one on the other side of the water. If you are tired of browsing, you can have a juice or a coffee and sit down for a second in the furniture department of one of the shops.
> Oudegracht 247, 255 and 266

De Waarde

They claim to be the nicest kringloop department store on their own website. I can’t really disagree with that, as they have a huge assortment of various things. Clothes, books, toys, kitchenware, furniture, DVDs, sports equipment, yarn, craft supply, garden equipment, electronics or whatever you can imagine. But be careful, time flies once you are inside and your basket probably is too small to hold all the treasures you found.
> Veilingstraat 10

Kringloopwarenhuis De ARM

This is the big sister of the shops on Oudegracht. You’ll find this enormous store, where you can buy really anything, in the heart of Hoograven district. In need of a special life size dollhouse? Of course! Or horse riding gear? In which colour, and in what size? It’s unbelievable what you can find in this place, including stuff you never thought you would need.
> Verlengde Hoogravenseweg 63

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