The flea market for everybody: de IJ-Hallen

This week is the national week of second-hand textiles (20-27 April). I couldn’t let this pass by without putting my (and many others) favorite spot for second-hand items, but especially clothing, in the limelight: the IJ-Hallen. Not only is it the largest organized flea market in Europe, it is also a place to get inspired and enjoy the unique atmosphere. The IJ hallen are part of the identity of the NDSM wharf, a good reason to look back and forward during this special week in these corona times.

I still remember it as if it was only yesterday, the first time I set foot on land in Amsterdam-Noord. With a friend I traveled from the Betuwe to the north of the country for two hours to visit the IJ-Hallen. For two girls from a farming village it was an experience that made an incredible impression. It was also the moment when I fell in love with Amsterdam, a tight grip from which I never really escaped. In addition to the impressive structure of the market on the NDSM site outside and inside in the warehouse, there is also a typical “IJ-hallen atmosphere”: welcoming, warm and curious. Something that you will not experience in this way anywhere else and that is almost impossible to comprehend in words. After that first time, the monthly trip to Amsterdam-Noord had become a regular pass-time. Weekend after weekend I strolled past the stalls, finding out again and again that I could indeed use a new sweater, pants or pair of shoes.

I am not the only one who looks back with a certain nostalgia on long afternoons passing by the stalls. If you venture to the review page of the IJ-Hallen on their social media, you will be overflooded with unique stories from visitors, from Amsterdam and beyond. About how they found their new showpiece for the living room or their new solid wood dining table that they had been looking for for so long. In addition to a place to buy or sell prized possessions, the IJ-Hallen are also a meeting place. There is nothing like sitting down on the Y slope with some fries fries, next to you is a bag filled with new clothes while you chat with a fellow visitor who has also sat down next to you.

It is great fun to trace those special stories of people who visit the IJ-Hallen

Undoubtedly, many connections, friendships and most likely also love relationships, have been made on the sacred ground of the IJ-Hallen. As a visitor you also get a fascinating glimpse into the life of sellers on the IJ-Hallen, who by displaying their furniture or wardrobe give a tip of the veil about their style and what they once liked, but have now decided to say goodbye to. As you haggle for a fine knit sweater, you find out how much you have in common with the salesperson on the other side of the stall.

Besides the fact that the IJ hallen have enormous emotional value, buying second-hand textiles and other items is also beneficial for the world. The textile industry is a huge polluter and is responsible for 10% of the total global CO2 emissions. Just to be clear, this is more than all international flights and all commercial sea transport combined. The production and processing of clothing, footwear and household textiles also cause water pollution and landfills: wholes of waste in the ground which then sinks into the soil. Not to mention the human rights violations of some clothing companies in developing countries. In short: buying more second-hand can have a huge impact on the world and with a place like the IJ-Hallen it can also make a fantastic impression on yourself.

As a visitor you also get a fascinating glimpse into the life of sellers at the IJ-Hallen

Unfortunately, we were unable to join the crowds along the stalls of the market the last couple of months. This had everything to do with the situation surrounding corona and the measures that have been taken to combat the increasing infection rates. No stalls, no bag full of old new clothes, no fries on the Y slope. “I hope we can open safely again soon,” says Nichon Glerum, the photographer of the IJ-Hallen for 6 years, when I ask her about her feeling for the market in a telephone conversation. “It is really a great event. Every time the stories are literally there for the taking, together with the photogenic warehouse and NDSM grounds, it really creates a unique atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun to track down people’s special stories and the reasons why they buy or sell things. It is a really nice way to play shop, just like when you were young. ” Nichon’s enthusiasm can be felt over the phone. When I ask her about the future, she sighs. “I miss the IJ-Hallen terribly,” she says, “as soon as the green light comes from the government, we want to go full throttle again. We have a lot of great plans to make the market even more special. ”

Don’t want to miss anything of the IJ-Hallen and the potential next market when it is possible again? View the website here or click below to stay informed via social media:


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