What I have learned as a street vendor – Queen’s Day 2011

On April 30, the Dutch celebrate Koninginnedag (“Queen’s Day”), a national holiday celebrating the birthday of Queen Juliana, the former Dutch Queen. It is by far the most important and most celebrated holiday in the Netherlands where the whole country, and especially Amsterdam, turns orange, the Dutch national color.

Queen’s Day is known for its parades, concerts, parties but first and foremost for its vrijmarkt (“free market”), where thousands of people sell their stuff on almost every street corner.

For me this year’s Queens Day was something very special since it was the first time that I was on the selling side and not on the buying side.

It seems that since I have started my Financial Freedom Challenge my mind has been re-programmed and focused on making money instead of spending it. Even though my friends told me every year how successful they were selling their old stuff, it never really occurred to me to do it myself, until now.

I discovered that selling your old stuff is great for several reasons:

  • You have a very good reason to finally sort out your things and clean up your cupboards, drawers, shelves etc. and find things you didn’t even know you had.
  • This cleaning process feels strangely enough great since it not only works for your apartment but also for your mind.
  • Selling is actually great fun! You meet so many nice people and have so many great conversations.
  • And, last but definitely not least, you make money with things you would otherwise throw away!

My net profit at Queen’s Day 2011 was somewhere between 170 and 200 euro (you’ll know why it is not one clear number in a minute).

So what makes a street vendor successful? Here are some tips from my experience:

My little street store and I

  • Bring a lot of change! The day before I went to a few shops, bought something for one or two euro, paid with notes and asked the ladies at the counter if they could give me back the change in coins.
  • Count the money you bring as change at home, before you actually go to the street market. I planned to count it before I started selling on the market, but I never got the time to do it since most of my sales took place while unpacking my bags and preparing my sales. Since I am not quite sure how much money I had on me when I started, I can only make a rough guess about my net profit yesterday: 170 to 200 euro.
  • Starting early pays! In certain spots in Amsterdam you need to be there very early to make sure you get a good spot for your market. I arrived at 8:20 in my favorite area on Queen’s Day, around the Hogeweg in the Watergraafsmeer area of Amsterdam and was just in time for one of the last great spots.
  • English and American tourist do not seem to bargain.
  • People buy everything! Even stuff you thought would be impossible to get a cent for it. People seem to like paying for other people’s useless things.

All in all it was a great day yesterday and I am already looking forward to Queen’s Day 2012!

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