Shopping in the Netherlands
There are quite a few chain supermarkets in the Netherlands and you will soon begin to figure out which one of your local stores will become your favourite. The grocery stores here are much smaller, size-wise than in South Africa – no Pick ‘n Pay sized shops here!
The most popular Grocery Stores
Albert Heijn – more of an upscale shop, pretty much in line with Woolworths.
Jumbo – this is one of the biggest chain stores and there will probably be one in your area. It is also probably the most cost-effective store for good value.
These supermarkets will have most items you are used to using in the kitchen. Also, most supermarkets do not accept credit cards or foreign debit cards (this may change as banks start moving over to Mastercard and Visa). So be prepared by having cash on hand but once you have a Dutch debit card it won’t be a problem.
Self Service is big in these stores so when you pick out those apples you want and bag them, don’t wait around for someone to weigh them, as you have to do this yourself by putting the packet on the scale and pushing the relevant buttons. You will also wait a long time for someone to come and pack your groceries into a bag at the check out counter – the cashier does not do this – you do! There are also self-service check-out tills, which are pretty cool once you have them figured out.
Keep your shopping bags handy as you will need them each time you shop for groceries. If you want to ask for shopping bags you ask: “Mag ik een tasje daarbij”. Tasje = shopping bag.
Each town has their own market day in which vendors arrive early in the morning and set up their stalls for most of the day. Products like cheese, bread, flowers/plants, fish, meat, chicken and sweets – as well as clothing and typical flea-market type goods are on sale, normally at good prices. It’s a great way to get to know the faces in your neighbourhood and to get into the swing of things.
Stuff for the house
Ikea – The ultimate home store and not one you will easily escape from without at least a few things in your trolley. You will probably spend a lot of money at the Ikea, we suggest getting an IKEA FAMILY CARD immediately before you start shopping as this gives you access to a lot of discounts and free coffee! You can apply for it at the customer services desk.
Hema – also a relatively big chain store, Hema has a bit of everything: clothing, linen, toiletries, a bakery etc.
Blokker – this is the Dutch version of Mr Price Home
Budget Store – if your town has one of these it is a real plus, especially when buying odds and ends for the kitchen.
Action – Like a five-rand store, all kinds of odds and ends for the house.
Praxis – very similar to Builders Warehouse.
Gamma – very similar to Builders Warehouse.
Hornbach – very similar to Builders Warehouse.
Kringloop Winkels – each town will have one and it’s a great place to pick up a bargain. These are basically second-hand stores for furniture and odds and ends, so well worth a visit when you are setting up a home.
Marktplaats.nl is an app to buy second-hand stuff from other people. You can find good furniture/bikes etc. on here in your own region or across the whole country.