Who are you and your team?
My name is Hannie Mans and together with Anne Bo Vis we are the team behind Het Derde Servies.We sell old and antique tableware and cutlery to people who cherish their beauty as much as we do.
Why did you start and when?
In 1989, my sister Ineke started selling second hand tableware long before it was a ‘trend’. She discovered that a lot of beautiful tableware and kitchenware collected dust in attics and cellars. She first sold these treasures from my parents’ garage and later, when she got more attention to what she was selling, opened a store in the center of Amsterdam.
When she fell ill and later passed away, I took over the store and continued in Rotterdam. That was 10 years ago already. Around a year ago Anne was here for a valuation for her tableware. A few days later she came back for more questions. Unfortunately I had to leave the store, so she took over to help me out. After a few hours I came back. Everything went well and she had a really great day. Later she texted me that she had the best day in a very long time and fell in love with the shop, so she came whenever she could. With her enthusiasm and power she gave me the flow again. We rebuild the shop, bought more styling items en started to find more younger customers. Today we work full time on the webshop, in the store and on other developments of our business.
What are these other developments?
Next to selling second hand tableware we also rent it for parties, events or photoshoots. That is really nice because we extend our network as well. We also do styling for people at home before a party or event.
To the catering industry we sell our tableware at a discount because we noticed that they become ambassadors for us. They tell other restaurants or cafes about us and that way we extend our network and clientele.
We are also currently working on the styling from a “Shop Airbnb” in Antwerp. It’s three store building that is fully furnished and you can buy everything you see. Nowadays when we find something we want to sell we find ourselves questioning; is it going to Rotterdam or Antwerp? (laughs)
Can you tell us more about your products?
Yes, first of all, all our products are old or antique. We do not sell new tableware, only used ones. Our products come from individuals who maybe lost an older family member and have to empty their homes or are busy with tidying up their own houses. But we also search on Marktplaats and often visit auctions as well.
This beautiful tableware is passed on to the next generations by our store in Rotterdam and our webshop. It is not necessary to throw anything away, there is always a new owner who will be happy to buy it. Resources are also limited and in terms of design and quality, antique tableware can easily compete with contemporary designs and quality.
The costumer also has a choice with us. They can buy a whole set but they can also buy just one or two pieces from the set. We also like to show people that they can mix and match pieces from different sets for a more diverse and fun table set.
I must mention that we do not sell silver. The reason behind is that silver has a much higher price when you let it melt in. That’s is why we advise individuals to do that instead of selling their silver cutlery to us. For example I once priced a silver soup spoon for €30. But I was curious what the jewelry shop owner in the street would say. So I went there and he explained to me that if I melted that spoon in he would pay me around €80. We don’t have that much experience with silver and we also want to give honest advice to our clients. Best to use the silver cutlery if you have one or sell it to a jewellery shop.
Is that also your vision to inspire the next generations?
Yes, it is. We would like to inspire the next generations to cherish these kinds of tableware and not to buy a cheaper copy from a fast fashion or fast furniture brand. Vintage tableware has a much better quality. Most of it was handmade and they have beautiful patterns and designs. Maybe it’s not your style yet (laughs), but what you see in today’s copies are all based on these vintage designs. Next to all that we also want to show people that buying sustainable can be fun, colorful and very unique.
How do you contribute to a more sustainable Rotterdam?
We sell second-hand quality products. We try to teach people to throw away as little as possible and to look for ways of saving them from the trash can or the recycling depot.
When we have to ship something we use old cardboard boxes that we get from our neighbours and we also have a deal with Eko Plaza. They provide us with cardboard and packaging materials they can not use anymore. I also have to sometimes steal the newspapers from my husband because I need them so much for shipping, even though he hasn’t read the newspaper yet (laughs). This way we also save resources and it is better for our wallets as well. We do wrap gifts in nice and shiny paper if the client wants it but that is not our priority.
What are the greatest challenges you are facing at the moment?
We feel that the younger generation still finds it difficult to find us. It would be really nice if there was a ‘sustainable neighbourhood’ in Rotterdam. I think that would be easier for people to find us and other sustainable companies as well. But that is very hard to accomplish because of the rising rent prices. That is why so many people start with a webshop instead.
With what can the community help you at the moment?
Sharing our shop and methodology with your friends and family is already a great step. We notice that it still works when you personally share newly discovered places in the city. Next to that you can always come by and talk about tableware with us or if you want to sell, buy or are looking for something specific, maybe we can help you with that too.