Local Heart, Global Soul

March 10, 2010

When you mix second-hand goods with social responsibility?.. you get…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the Netherlands there is National group called the Kringloopwinkel organisation.  Kringloopwinkels are a type of second hand shop.

Yes, granted “Kringloopwinkel” looks like a long and frightening word at first sight so let’s teach you how to say it first.  Say this out loud: “Cring -lope-wink-cool”

See? Not so bad after all.  A “kring” is a circle, and a circle is without end. Concern for the environment and the  cycle of consumption that reads: “buy-use-throw” was just one of the motivations for this organisation  being bought into being.

This first motivation is that by adding a Kringloopwinkel at the end of this “buy-use-throw” cycle, someone buys and uses an item that is still totally usable, unbroken and would otherwise end up unnecessarily in landfill and so the item gains a second life, or third or maybe even more.

The best part of the Kringloop system? Things are cheap (we tightwad err,  thrifty Dutch like that a lot LOL)  The shops are run on a franchise style basis, with different companies running them, but they retain embedded similarities, just like franchises do in other sectors.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Kringloop  mission statement reads  “Het bevorderen van kwalitatief en doelmatig product- en materiaalhergebruik bij haar leden alsmede het stimuleren van het sociaal ondernemerschap.” and that translates as

…” the stimulation of qualitative and efficacious reuse of products and materials among it’s members,  as well as stimulation of social entrepreneurship”

Social entrepreneurship? Well this brings us to the second of the motivations for bringing these shops into being: “social entrepreneurship”  is actually a very nice way of saying: employment for people who are deemed otherwise unemployable for other  jobs.

So Kringloopwinkels throughout The Netherlands are staffed by people who want to work but for various social reasons are unsuited to the regular workforce. Guess what ? it works !

People everywhere who are shifting house, clearing out etc  donate their goods large and small to Kringloopwinkels, so it’s  and excellent place  to find a few old bits and bobs, outgrown toys,  kitchenware, things that  people have rather obviously been gifted and never used, clothes, furniture, curtains and a massive assortment of stuff that second hand shops excel in. (some items that are of higher antique value are however sold separately at auction and the money used to pay shop rents, wages etc)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The biggest tips I have, if you are in the Netherlands and want to nose out the best bargains at Kringloopwinkels are:

Be early, get there when the shop opens, and even more importantly, go often.

These shops are very popular and in most areas the turnover of stock is very high. I have often stood in the shop, paying for my latest “find”, seen new items come in and be snapped up and bought in the time it took me to pay for my purchase.  Good stuff definitely doesn’t sit long…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next biggest tip is if like our family, you frequent Kringloopwinkels a lot, and have a policy with your kids that they sometimes have to bring  toys that haven’t been played with for a while  IN for other children to enjoy before taking “new” (to them) toys OUT… that you don’t fall into the most obvious blunder:   DO bring the “old” toys to a DIFFERENT  Kringloopwinkel than the one that your kids usually frequent, because otherwise you will end up trying to explain to your  then four year old that “Noooo, you can’t buy this to take  home again, we only just bought it IN…” Said kid was in tears, seems it was “old toy” when we put it into the canvas bag at home  to bring it in and somehow it got “new” again when we took it out of the bag  in the shop”

Duh, Mama… I learned quickly from this blunder.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I love Kringloopwinkels because they appeal to my wish to “reduce, reuse, recycle” … they support people into employment who would otherwise be unemployable, they help my children to value and enjoy the simple things in life (and to figure out that Euro 1.50c buys them a lot more here than in any regular shop) and to delight in great “finds”.

I  also keep an eye out for very cheap pieces of fabric and materials to use in Scouting craft activities, If I can buy them for a few Euros then I can make up kits that  can be given free of charge for the kids to use.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The saying the “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is certainly true. Just last week I bought a large metal dish for making pies in… it still had the original brand wrapping around it, clearly it was given to someone who had good intentions of baking but never got around to it. Price: Euro 1 !

Sold to a keen cook and baker!

… a different Kringloopwinkel … (This one has more clothes and kitchen equipment, but almost no furniture as it’s much smaller in size)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My kids have coined their own name for the Kringloopwinkel… they ask if they can please go to the “Krinklewinkel” LOL … and Himself and I, ever keen on fostering recycling usually say, “Yes,  that a great idea! ” .


  1. Hi. We surely could use some of that stuff in africa. The second hand goods we have here are realy very old, only fit to be thrown away. Please contact me.

    Comment by Eugene Macheza — October 22, 2010 @ 4:34 am | Reply

    • Sadly Eugene, I think that the cost of postage would be totally prohibitive, and use for second hand goods is far too general when often people in need have very specific needs and they should be addressed on that basis alone.

      Comment by kiwidutch — October 22, 2010 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  2. Is it possible to export such goods to africa where they are needed most?

    Comment by Eugene — October 22, 2010 @ 4:54 am | Reply

    • I’m sorry, it is not possible because this is a local enterprise and has no facility for International export. Nor, sadly in any way, do I. But I do support the Red Cross who do substantial work in Africa and around the world. I would advise that you contact any organisation already working in this field.

      Comment by kiwidutch — October 22, 2010 @ 3:13 pm | Reply

  3. […] on the 30th of August and until then we are making do with a table and chairs that we bought at a Kringloop(click to read a blog post about them), which is a type of second-hand […]

    Pingback by Meppel Beginnings – jarotravels — August 10, 2019 @ 7:11 am | Reply

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