The influx of students boosts the second-hand market in Groningen

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By Anna Portella

The term “vintage fashion” has turned into a travel ticket to trendy big cities like London and San Francisco, but there is also a thriving second-hand scene in smaller locales like the Dutch university town of Groningen. In this case, though, instead of old fashion garments, the spotlight is on students’ ware.

Facebook groups such as ‘*FOR SALE* in Groningen‘ or ‘For sale in Groningen for everyone! have become an effective way to match university students’ shared needs. Most of the transactions occur between leaving foreign students that need to get rid of their stuff and newcomers with empty hands. The most common offered and demanded products are bicycles and accommodation items since most of the real estate for rent in Groningen is unfurnished.

Actually, an important part of the city’s accommodation is occupied by students, making up more than 50,000 people living in Groningen (25% of its population). For this reason, it is the youngest city in the Netherlands.

September, when the study year starts, marks the market’s high season: “The fact that this is a student city makes that in September there is a huge demand for almost all items, which has a strong effect on the prices,” says Keith Dunne, a user. For this reason, it can take a few hours, even minutes, to sell some items. “In July nobody sent me a message. Now [September] I’ve posted the product again, and I’ve sold it in a few hours,” says Natalia VA Pérez, a seller.

To face the avalanche of messages from potential buyers, the sellers generally allocate their products on a first-in-first-served basis: “Usually I focus on the the first person that text me if he is quick in replying and come to see the item,” says Rados Vasileva, another seller.

But what make students fall back on buying used when the low-cost culture fill the stores’ shelves with a wide range of products adapted to every pocket? The price. “People prefer second-hand because it is cheaper. If they want to sell it later, there is still a chance of receiving more for the item than they initially paid for it,” says Lisa Fuhler, a member of ‘*FOR SALE* in Groningen’.

Indeed, there could be a big gap between the market prices of new and used items. However, depending on the product, other factors such as transportation and assembling also play an important role in the final cost: “I am selling a couch, so the buyer has to consider how they will move it. We are in the Netherlands, there are stairs everywhere. For large items, the market is much smaller,” explains Dunne.

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