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Where the Dutch go shopping

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de bijenkorf
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"Double Dutch”, “Going Dutch”: there are quite a number of expressions out there emphasizing how frugal the Dutch are. When it comes to shopping, the Dutch actually go to the extreme in two ways: they will spend a lot of money on real quality, but when they go grocery shopping, they generally watch every penny they spend. Going to markets is a favorite family pastime on Saturday mornings. Top on their lists will be flowers, herring and, of course – cheese.

Holland’s creative and varied shopping scene culminates in the four largest cities of the metropolitan area of the Randstad: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. The best areas are mostly found in historical city centers where malls and huge department stores are quite uncommon. This provides shoppers with a more specialized and unique blend of items and experiences.

The Netherlands is not a country of large department stores, resembling the Dutch attitude that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Individual stores are more common, but  the larger and more luxurious De Bijenkorf is generally considered a high quality department store, carrying a wide selection and its own product lines that can rival many international brands. Recently, De Bijenkorf has started shop-in-shops with the world’s most famous brands like Burberry and Louis Vuitton. De Bijenkorf can be found throughout larger urban areas, one of the best known ones sits at the Dam square in the centre of Amsterdam.  

Although at the lower end of the price range, HEMA (an acronym for Dutch Egalitarian Prices Company) is missed most by Dutch when they leave Holland. Even well-to-do Dutch make no secret about shopping here. Most typical Dutch delicacies can be found at HEMA at friendly prices, such as stroopwafels (syrup cookies) and licorice along with good quality and original children’s/baby clothes and kitchen utensils. Also, HEMA’s smoked sausage (“rookworst”) is what many Dutch folks treat themselves to on a chilly Saturday morning of shopping and running errands.

Amsterdam shopping: Kalverstraat, Haarlemmerstraat, Negen Straatjes, PC Hooftstraat
Utrecht shopping: Oudegracht and surrounding streets
Rotterdam: Witte de Withstraat
The Hague: Spuistraat, Noordeinde, Denneweg

Hema
Found in city centers (small and large) throughout the Netherlands with multiple branches per city.

De Bijenkorf
Found in the city centers of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht and other larger cities at prominent locations.

Markets in Amsterdam: Albert Cuyp Market (Albert Cuypstraat), Flea Market (Waterlooplein), Flower market (Singel), Bio Market (Noordermarkt)