Speaking as an honorary Amsterdammer, I'm not supposed to like Rotterdam. The rivalry between the two cities means I'm supposed to avoid Rotterdam and demean it as a city and its residents. The problem is I love Rotterdam. I would live there given half a chance (my partner is more of a real Amsterdammer!) and there are many reasons why I love it. Vintage shopping is one of them. It's a big one because it's good. Yes, Amsterdam has vintage shops but they're everywhere and a little overwhelming - and often very over-priced - but Rotterdam has quirky stores with personality as well as the vintage goods.
However, if you're heading to Rotterdam and would like some things to do in addition to your vintage shopping, check out the Luchtsingel, the striking (and delicious) Markthal, the beautiful, beautiful Delfshaven, and if you can time your visit with the world-famous North Sea Jazz Festival or local favourite World Port Days (Wereldhavendagen). And if you love vintage shopping, check out my guide for finding and buying the best quality vintage clothes.
But now back to some fantastic, if a little stop-start, vintage shopping in Rotterdam - all will be explained!
Vintage Shopping in Rotterdam
My first piece of advice about vintage shopping in Rotterdam is: Don't go on a Sunday afternoon or a Monday morning.
My first confession about my experience vintage shopping in Rotterdam is: I went on a Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.
Most of these shops I am about to share with you were therefore closed. However, I did quite a bit of research before I went to Rotterdam, asked some people I knew from the city and I also pressed my nose up to each of the windows photographed below and left my greasy fingerprints all over the glass in an attempt to get a flavour for the range and value on offer inside each of these stores. I hope my research and glass-smearing proves useful!
Vintage Clothes, Accessories and Furniture - Tony's Garage Sale
My first recommendation is where I had the most success and not just because it was open at 17:30 on a Sunday evening. I maintain that Tony's Garage Sale was the most fun-looking and varied shop on my list and I will definitely be entertaining the idea of hopping on a train to Rotterdam just to rummage through the rails there again because I believe it's a great place for bargains, quirky items and the full vintage experience. In other words; they have EVERYTHING for sale. From retro robot toys to mid-century furniture, you could pretty much kit out your whole house in purchases from Tony's... and do so while rocking a neat vintage dress.
To give you an idea of price, I bought two 1970s vintage dresses for €26,00 and the sale rack had some very tempting items at just €5,00. Next time...
Oh and don't be put off by the "pop-up" sign. The guy manning the cash desk told me that it's been a pop-up shop for a year and a half and as long as the stock keeps moving they'll keep grooving in their spot a five minute walk from Blaak station.
He didn't say "grooving". I put that in there.
Tony's Garage Sale, Burgermeester van Walsumweg 528, Rotterdam.
Vintage Interiors, Jewellery and Lighting - North Sea Design
One of only a few that wasn't on my researched list of shops to find, I found North Sea Design almost at the end of a rainbow. Or rather at the end of Luchtsingel or "air canal" a wooden bridge and elevated walking platform that connects central Rotterdam with a more residential corner in the north. I will write more about Luchtsingel in due course, but when I found North Sea Design occupying one of the arches of the former railway station "Station Hofplein", which is also undergoing a renovation to become a collection of shops, cafes and boutiques, I was a very happy Birdie.
Inside I found a mix of modern Scandinavian design, an array of varied vintage furnishings (I'm still thinking about the nest of tables below) and lighting and at the back, a corner full of vintage jewellery, some as affordable as just a few Euros. Definitely worth finding and you won't regret that walk along the Luchtsingel if you do!
North Sea Design, Raampoortsraat 32, Rotterdam
Vintage Shoes, Boots and More - Vintage Footwear
Heading onto Nieuwe Binnenweg on the other side of the city, I found a collection of great shops including two vintage lovelies, almost next door to each other.
It was only because I was taking photos of my new Instagram obsession - doors! - that I stumbled upon Vintage Footwear, which on a Sunday morning was closed, but by the looks of their website, they offer exactly what they promise - vintage shoes, boats, trainers for both him and her. I am still a little glum that I didn't get to go in and have a look around - and to find out if they banana boxes in the windows are connected?!?! - but lucky for all of us there's an online shop and it looks like they ship internationally.
Vintage Footwear, Bloemkwekersstraat 92, Rotterdam
Vintage Clothes - Sister Moon
Another shop that I had to admire from outside, was Sister Moon, but the window promised everything a vintage jumble shop should, and I say that with love because I'm one of those strange people who likes to work hard for my vintage treasures. MAKE ME RUMMAGE!!
I also think this could be a good spot for fancy dress outfits, if you're ever in Rotterdam and feel the need to impersonate Austin Powers or some such retro styled character.
And if you do go, poke your head around the corner to admire the nice wall murals on the side of the store (just nextdoor to Vintage Footwear).
Sister Moon, Nieuwe Binnnenweg 89, Rotterdam
Vintage Clothes and Accessories - Vidi Vici
And now we're over in the Nieuwemarkt part of town, behind Blaak station and close to both the new Indoor Markthal (more on that soon!) and St Lawrence Church.
I had Vidi Vici starred on my map at breakfast on Monday morning before getting there, and I nearly cried - okay, I was a bit far off that but still my bottom lip stuck out - when I saw that it was closed on Mondays. So instead I just hung around outside writing an imaginary shopping list from the things that were in the window.
Then I walked around the corner and saw that it had another shop window on the other side and so I did the same thing there.
Inside looked clean, organised and prices ranged from €40,00 for a vintage 60s bag which looked in immaculate condition to twenty-something Euros for a blouse, which I couldn't see properly. Hmm, maybe there really were tears in my eyes...
Vidi Vici, Botersloot 38a, Rotterdam
Vintage Trinkets & Antiques - Nico's Very Special Shop
A bit of a surprise, just close by to Vidi Vici, was this antique store that looked more full of trinkets than heirlooms, meaning it could be a great spot to pick out some vintage ornaments or china. Again, it was sadly closed on Monday but it's on my list to go back to. I mean, look, there's an old globe in the window!!
Nico's Very Special Shop - Unfortunately I couldn't find a website or an official listing/address for Nico's but it's on Botersloot (as of date of publication).
Vintage Style and Retro-inspired Clothes - Very Cherry
Currently occupying a temporary location due to renovation, Cherry Berry is usually also on Botersloot but instead was to be found around the corner as their store undergoes work (there are signs!). But alas! When I arrived at 11 o'clock I was informed that it wasn't open until 1pm. And I already had lunch plans so I had to peel my quivering bottom lip from yet another shop window and walk away.
In some ways I don't think Cherry Berry was 100% my kind of shop - it looked like it had a lot of retro-inspired new clothes, but I shouldn't judge a shop by it's front window.
Very Cherry, TEMPORARY LOCATION - Hoogstraat 129a, 3011 PL Rotterdam.
Vintage Clothes - Dear Hunter Vintage
In many ways I was most excited about Dear Hunter as a friend of a friend had gone out of her way to email me about it and I also cycled past the shop on a previous day and liked what I saw. In fact, I think I even coo-ed out loud saying "Ooooh clothes arranged in colour order," because that is exactly the kind of thing that gets me excited.
BUT AGAIN IT WAS CLOSED on Mondays. Gutted.
However, I've no doubt I'll go back, especially as the shop is helpfully close to a handful of Rotterdam's museums which are also still on my Must Do List.
From the looks of the website and Facebook page, Dear Hunter is also the name behind new and handmade goods, so that's kind of cool too.
Dear Hunter Vintage, Eendrachtsweg, Rotterdam.
Hungry for more vintage? Check out my vintage shopping guide for Ljubljana.
Frances M. Thompson
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.