Amsterdam is a city full of mystery, with plenty of little details, pieces of art and history around every corner. When in Amsterdam one cannot help but think, why are there three big stores where they sell rubber ducks? Is it part of Dutch culture? Is it a tradition?
Truth be told, the fact that rubber ducks are being sold in Amsterdam is completely random. The owner of these rubber ducks stores opened them after seeing how popular ducks were becoming in her gift shop. She bet on the winning horse: after her inversion, these ducks have become an icon of the city.
There are three stores in the centre of Amsterdam that sell exclusively rubber ducks. This can come up as a surprise as many other things you will find in Amsterdam, however, there is always a deeper explanation for this random behaviour, shops and art creations. Find out more about it down below!
Rubber Ducks in Amsterdam
One of Amsterdam’s most iconic stores is the Amsterdam Duck Store, called like this because guess what?! They sell only and exclusively rubber ducks. This was the first store in the city to exclusively sell rubber ducks.
Do they get profits out of only selling this? Do people actually buy them? How come they sell these random rubber animals?
Everybody knows what a rubber duck is and it is the most iconic bathtub decoration and toy we have seen in every single movie, cartoon and illustration throughout our whole life.
These two stores belong to the same family, and they explain their story on their website: In a nutshell, they had a gift shop in Amsterdam and they decided to start selling rubber ducks in there.
After seeing how popular these were, they decided to add more types of ducks. The more they added, the more popular it became. After this, in 2011 they decided it was a good idea to open a shop selling only rubber ducks and when they found where to get their supplies.
Besides, according to them, this is fully a family business: it was thanks to one of their family members that they designed their cute rubber duck logo, the website, the webshop and all the different steps of the business.
If you are wondering how well they have done, you only have to think that in the same city there are not one but three duck stores, as well as rubber duck stores all over Europe, in Barcelona, Sevilla, San Sebastian, Limassol, Florence, San Marino, Milan, Rome, San Marino, Madeira and Paris.
You see, trends that start in Amsterdam end up being popular all over the world in some of the most influential capitals of the world.
Why Rubber Ducks?
There are many reasons why they decided to go for rubber ducks, among these we can find:
- Make people happy: Rubber Ducks are superfluous and pointless yet, like flowers, one of those things that you buy to cheer you up, to make you smile, to make your house look prettier and your life a little better.
- Collection: having so many options to choose from is also an incentive for many people to start a collection. You can find historical characters, musicians, heroes, Dutch ones, and one for each occasion (Halloween, weddings, Christmas, etc) making them thematic.
- Florentijn Hofman: to add a little bit of depth into the idea, they talk about one of the poems of the famous Dutch artist Flrentijn Hofman, a Ducks lover who inspired them.
- Price: most ducks are around 10 euros, the most special ones around 20, a relatively affordable price for a lot of people to be able to get them.
Besides, as a side note, Amsterdam is one of those cities that people know when they are visiting it that they will be able to find literally anything. From the legal prostitution and drug consumption to the freedom of speech, religion and sexual orientation to anything you can imagine.
In a place where everything is allowed and everything has a place, what is strange about selling rubber ducks? Nothing at all!
Rubber Ducks Collection
Here you have a list of the available collections in Amsterdam Duck Store, themes and types of rubber ducks you can find on their website:
- Artists: Van Gogh, Purple Waves, The Rollings, Shakespeare, Freddie Mercury, etc
- Famous people: Harry Potter, Trump, Her Royal Highness, Marilyn Monroe, Sherlock…
- Valentine’s Day: Collection
- Halloween: Collection
- Christmas: Collection
- Holland: Collection
- Countries: Collection
They update the different types of rubber ducks according to the season, they have one of each different colours, with dates, personalised for birthday or wedding presents, etc. The key to their business working is the variety: anyone will identify with at least one of these ducks.
Florentijn Hofman: About Ducks
According to Amsterdam Duck Store, the following poem from this Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman inspired them to follow their idea of making ducks famous and important for the Dutch culture:
“The rubber duck knows no frontier
it doesn’t discriminate people
and doesn’t have a political connotation.
The friendly floating rubber duck
has healing properties;
it can relieve mondial tensions
as well as define them.
The rubber duck is soft, friendly
And suitable for
Florentijn Hofman is a Dutch artist worldwide famous because of his project with rubber ducks. He works in any type of urban design and installation that would reflect, as he says in the poem, no political nor ideological connotation. He mostly looks for a philosophy of the good, the beautiful and the fun.
He was one of the first to make rubber ducks worth the hype and be seen as pieces of art instead of simple rubber.
Like the famous cows in Spain created by Pascal Knapp and the giant Miffy (or Nijntje) created by Dick Bruna, these Ducks had different designs and huge size and were spread all over the world, floating, exhibited for weeks. This happened in 2007.
Firstly, these ducks have been exhibited in Amsterdam, Baku, Osaka, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Lommel and Hong Kong. Years later they started being on display in China, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Chile, the United States and so on.
Important Information: Rubber Duck Store
Besides Amsterdam Rubber Duck Stores, and since rubber ducks have become more and more popular since the first opening of Amsterdam Rubber Duck. The other two stores where they sell other types or Rubber Ducks are:
- Rubber Duck Store in the Red Light District area (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 181III, 1012 EW)
- The Rubber Duck Store by Amsterdam CS (Geldersekade 37, 1012 AS)
Amsterdam Duck Store
Amsterdam Duck Store is definitely the most famous out of them all and the first one to come up with the idea of selling exclusively rubber ducks. Unlike the other stores, they have a website where you will be able to find all their collections, buy them online and check prices, shipping, conditions, etc.
Amsterdam Duck Store (1): It is located in Staalstraat 10, 1011 JL open every day of the week from 10:30 am until 6 pm.
Amsterdam Duck Store (2): It is located in Oude Leliestraat 16, 1015 AW open every day of the week from 11 am until 6 pm.
There are many people that seeing the many rubber duck stores in Amsterdam start thinking that these mean something in the Dutch culture, something related to the history of the Netherlands and the identity of the country.
For those of you who don’t know, the cartoon or character that defines the Netherlands is the famous Nijntje, widely known as Miffy.
Miffy is a rabbit that has become popular mostly in Asia but that its origin is Dutch. The creator is the Dutch artist Dick Bruna, who made this character for a children’s book and who ended up creating several versions of little Miffy, creating a collection and source of inspiration for future generations.
Miffy or Nijntje was created in the sixties. Miffy is the international name for this little rabbit, however, her real name is Nijntje, short for Kojintje (little rabbit in Dutch).
Since the times of Napoleon (read more about Dutch history here), who called himself the Konijn (rabbit) instead of the Koning (king), rabbits have been an important part of the Dutch culture, as a symbol of their wittiness.
It was thanks to Bruna that this idea of the rabbit representing the Dutch culture started spreading all over the world to become right now of the most known cartoons of the century.
Miffy (Nijntje) is the face for many different objects, both in the Netherlands and in Asian countries, for children and for adults. For those who have visited the Netherlands knowing Miffy, it is impossible not to relate this as a symbol of the Netherlands.
Like Ducks and, like the Spanish cows from the Swiss artist Pascal Knapp, Nijntje has been reproduced in big sculptures, each designed by a different artist with a different theme and you will be able to find them in the middle of the street (for instance, in Utrecht) or in the museum.
Photo Courtesy of Amsterdam Duck Store