Forty years of Waterlooplein market!
For more than forty years, Jos Albers has been selling books at the Waterlooplein. It went from golden times to head-just-above-water times to now; a glorious phase in which he literally drives a unique barn concept with his daughter Laila. ‘The market is everyone’s favorite pub.’
Jos Albers: ‘I started as a book printer.
It is a bit strange to say, that when I sit inside, I hate it. Why? Yes, I like the freedom. I like being among the people, being able to talk to whomever I want. If you ask the other market vendors, they’ll agree.
Type of house
‘I started selling everything and everything. That includes books and they sold well. So then you go with that. I did not know much about it but you learn. ‘You used to laugh’ from Carmiggelt, you’ll lose that easy. Beautiful art book, ok can be something, well-known thriller, yes that is something. People get to know you, tip you; there and there someone died and the children ask if you can come to see the books. That’s how it goes. I’ve bought a beautiful house in Noord-Holland from the money earned but … then the computer came. I don’t have one, I never use it. You press one button and you have 10 issues of “You used to laugh’ and some of them just cost over one euro. That has changed the profession. Searching, finding the gems, your knowledge in that area … you do not far with that anymore. About five years ago it became really difficult … Never thought I would leave here, because the market … the market is not a collection of sales stuff. Much more than that, the market is a kind of house for us, for the regular customers, for the neighborhood, for Amsterdam … It is the table where you are talking to each other. You will not just leave that. So that Laila went along with me, that was … ”
Laila Albers: “Do you know what a Morning Star is? That is someone who goes to the streets early in the morning to see if there are valuables. That is how I started. Yes, of course because Jos worked here as well. I had saved 500 euros with thousands of jobs, bought a van and it all started just like that. Wonderful time. And I discovered that tins were the thing. You have to do business here so you’re going to think in a certain way – and tins … No one did tins here at the square. Tins can withstand the rain and a knock. They are light weight. You can slide them together. Everyone has tins and everyone needs them – and because they are historical, they are often interesting for tourists too. It turned out to be a good choice. ”
‘In the meantime I started studying photography at the Royal Academy for Visual Arts in The Hague and it all started to become a bit of a bore, it was like having a ‘real’ job. When we noticed that the books did less, the decision was taken quickly. Jos serves the grumpy old men with his books and I served the nice young women with my tins. They come together in to our stable and the books are selling again. I sometimes wonder how that has come to be …
‘If I finish studying next year, I will certainly not stop selling here. My photography is about the alienation and lack of connection between people. Whether you can live from photography alone, is the question and moreover, the square is the relief. It is what Jos says, the square is not only a trading place, it has an important social significance. We get the rich people, scientists, housewives, bums, lonely people, psychiatric patients, celebrities. The people make a chat, feel part of the market and Amsterdam. There are so many people who have no one who come to clean up the stalls at the end of the day for a few euros. The square gives people the feeling that they are participating, and all people like that. The market can be properly described as their favorite pub … and it’s mine as well. ‘