Monday, 30 July 2012

Dutch Sjommelmert Disappointments

Wednesday and Thursday saw the Dutch town of Roermond's annual Sjommelmert (jumble sale). This is a big thing here, with the town council closing all roads through the centre of town and setting up stalls for people to use. Needless to say I was very exited about the prospect of people bringing their precious junk right to my front door for me to root around in. Unfortunately, I couldn't have been more disappointed.

For the sake of uploading some pretty pictures I'll mention now that I did buy a pair of fantastic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III glasses for €1.50. The are most likely part of a set, but I don't mind as my orange juice taste much better when imbued with 'Turtle Power'.

Limburg, the Dutch province I live in,  seems to have endured some sort of electronic dark age within the last decade or two. There are no second hand games for sale whatsoever, aside from the odd copy of CSI: Morpheus is Missing on the Wii or Barbie's Horse Riding Adventure on the Nintendo DS ( N.B.I made both of these titles up, but you get the picture). Most Limburg residents genuinely believe to have some interesting vintage items for sale in their old 80's cassette mix tapes and VHS collections, with what they consider to be non-negotiable, but fair prices.

For example, one stall had a stack of old used phone cards, for those who remember the craze of wacky designs on phone cards, with various patterns on including one with a host of Marvel characters. I offered twenty cents, the lady wanted fifty. That's fifty cents for a used phone card of essentially zero value. Another lady had a pile of about fifteen PS2 demo discs, which I was thinking of asking five Euros for. Too bad, because she wanted a hefty €1.50 for each of them.

I didn't have to pay any fee for admission so spending an hour or so wondering around a flea market isn't such a bad thing, or at least it wouldn't be if not for the intense and unrelenting heat wave that had hit Limburg. With all of those bodies crammed together, clambering over each other to score a deal on a vintage bed-pan, it made a boring experience absolutely hellish. One poor girl even had to be wheeled away on a stretcher accompanied by paramedics because of the heat.

The nightmare didn't end once I had returned home, no, as a bar a few doors down opened a bar outside as well as a band to play six solid hours of blues, the first hour or so I found enjoyable, until it became the late evening and my girlfriend and I had to go to bed due to her working early shifts. The next day was almost unbearable as they scrapped the band and had some 'Happy House Club', scooter riding high school drop-out playing all of his favourite beats from his iPod for another eight solid hours. That's eight hours of the same mind numbing, moronic bass lines and drum beats.

The real shocker came at the end of the two day market, just after people had packed up to go home. Strewn along the road were all the bits and bobs that weren't sold; clothes, light fixtures, tapes, you name it, the junk was there. All these items that the sellers were too stubborn  to reduce the prices for were simply abandoned, and a few minutes later the bin men came and threw it all away. This part of the market in particular actually upset me as at least the clothes could have been separated to be sent of to those in need. But too bad because it all went in the bin together to get dumped in some landfill site. What a tragic waste.

According to the market's website, the annual Roermond Sjommelmert is attended by people from across the country as well as neighbouring countries. Let it be known that this abominations of a market is the product of a small town's fear or identity loss and is an already stale, fake tradition forced down people's throats on a yearly basis by a committee of old fogies that should be avoided at all costs. Roll on those cool autumn gusts of wind.


  1. Kind of crappy that nobody wanted to move on their prices. When it comes to these sort of events(in the U.S. anyway), haggling is a given. And unless the demo discs are rare or sought after(most I don't think are), they're practically worthless. It's not like you can get a whole lot of mileage out of them. But at least you came away with some pretty sweet glasses! :)

  2. Itś the same in the UK where I spent most of my life. Haggling is a normal part of buying used goods from car boot sales and it just adds some excitement to the whole deal for both parties.

    And no, the demo discs were just a stack of ordinary demo discs. You´d see those kinds of things selling for 20p each maximum in the UK, probably the same in the US. Blows my mind to be honest and takes the joy out of treasure hunting.

    The glasses are awesome and I use them more than I thought I would. Thanks for the comment!


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