A warehouse FULL of antique goods a place to remember in the small city of Antwerp!
I’m a flea market rat, and I’ve been to plenty flea markets but not one of them amazes me as the one located 150 meters from my house, the place is called “Rommel Paradijs’ meaning Junk Paradise. It’s a big warehouse like building filled with antique goods such as; chairs, beer crates, religious statues, tables, wooden statues, lamps, mirrors, frames, vintage billiard sticks, vintage toys, chandeliers, tropical hats, fur jackets, vintage gold sticks, porcelain statues, vintage radios, paintings, sombrero’s, copper cooking pots, camera’s, porcelain plates, vintage helmets, vintage boxing gloves, dolls, mannequins, tea pots, tea glasses, vintage typing machine, books, vintage tin cookie cans, candle holders, vinyl’s, boom box, chairs, champagne glasses, fishing gear, chessboard, clocks, vintage record player, Asian swords the list can go on – you name it they’ll have it! There are two people working in Rommel Paradijs the proud owner Patrick Janssens that always greats me with a warm smile and his assistant. I asked Patrick to do a little interview and here is his story.
1. How long are you involved in de Rommelmarkt business?
26 years ago I started with rommelbeurzen in the famous places as still exist today : Sportpaleis in Merksem, Nekkerhallen in Mechelen and Bouwcentrum in Antwerp.
Based on this I have been able to purchase a little warehouse that
has me made famous up till today.
2. How did you start?
I stated with nothing, "on the street I put-up a big plate “We sell for you” this was a long time before the recycling warehouse and eco-shops existed. Within months I did good business.
3. Do you see it as a passion?
Original I was a creative photographer, but with exhibitions and publications in magazines was not much money to be made, at that time. I was married and had kids I had to get money to support them. Since I grow up in a family whom was collecting antiques, the choice was easily made.
4. From where and how do you collect the goods?
In the beginning I put advertisements in newspapers and magazines, but today it is not necessary anymore. Every day when I’m open there are come 10 to 15 people to sell me
things or to give me addresses where I can purchase complete house inventories.
5. What is the funniest anecdote?
In the first 15 years I had my Rommel Paradijs, which was located in a different place in Merksem, I did join with an other traders to sell there goods. They organized frequently, and with success, eat and drink parties with a big open fire place. The location was a little spooky, but well decorated, we had a lot of fun.
6. Do you keep something to yourself?
I now live in a small hotel from approximately 1850, and that is decorated with old antiques and decorative artifacts of the past. Some of the furniture is 300 years old, but
Collecting specific things I don’t do. But I do keep the nice things, for when later when I intend to live in France or Spain, and will do a “rommelmarkt” there.
7. What are the difficulties you encounter?
The people that constantly bargain, although I know I’m selling at the lowest price in the Province of Antwerp. A lot is stolen since “the location invites thieves…”.
We have to pay 21% value added taxes, although the recycling warehouses do pay only 6% and even get government support to run.
The people say, that I’m a charlatan as so many others in selling those things, but I must say I’ve always been a honest person.
8. What do you do with the good that are not sold?
I have difficulty to throw something away, but in the past I had that exporters came in and purchased the whole warehouse. And I could start again. But now in crisis it is a lot more difficult.
09. What is giving you a kick in doing this?
A kick I don’t get from this job, but it has many variations, and from time to time you can earn some good money. We also contribute to the ecology, we recycle and do some social work…. And there are a lot of people whom have moral and physical problems whom come to me for help. My son says that I better had been a priest!
But against all odds, I like this job, and since the subject interests me and I can support my family and have a lot of freedom… I will continue for some years to come…
While taking pictures inside I came across his assistant, (he is always busy cleaning and putting things in order) I asked him what the oddest thing was he ever came across and he said a coffin and human skeleton that once belonged to a gynecologist!!
Rommel Paradijs is the place to be if you are looking for antique. The place is cozy full of goods you will never get enough, but sometimes you will have to squeeze yourself to get from one side to the other. I love being there digging my hands in old junk. I never leave empty handed and I always walk out of the door with a big smile on my face. So if you love antique flea markets and you are in Antwerp don’t forget to drop by at Rommel Paradijs, open every Wednesday and Saturday from 11am until 5pm.