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De Hollandse Winkel

the only shop dedicated to selling purely Dutch products

1 Alfred St Blackburn 3130 VIC AU

+61 (0)3 9894 0288

Albert and Amy Kerkvliet have been keeping the doors of De Hollandse Winkel (The Dutch Supermarket) open for the past 16 years. It is the only shop dedicated to selling purely Dutch products in the whole of Victoria. In fact it is famous in Holland for having the largest range of products in any one store, more so than many shops in Holland itself. You really need to see the fifty different brands of licorice on offer to believe the abundance of products available here.

When Dutch tourists come to Australia they often visit De Hollandse Winkel, introducing their Australian hosts to the shop for the first time. It is also a common place for very old friends to meet by chance. With the large majority of Dutch in Australia migrated in the 1950s, many lost touch with each other until brought together by the commonality of De Hollandse Winkel. The rear cafe has walls lined with cuckoo clocks, their faces decorated with hand painted moon faces and old ships. The interior set-up of the café has large circular tables covered with red and white check tablecloths and at the serving bar are perched a row of stools with cow skin seats. A cup of coffee and some cake brings a relaxed atmosphere to catch up with friends and family, to learn more about ones Dutch heritage or soak up this very Dutch, very kitsch atmosphere.

Amy and Albert began their business life together by selling brassware around Australia, using their truck as a selling and sleeping space. Amy confesses that after a while they found that brassware was no longer as popular an item as it had once been. They shut up shop on their brassware business and began six months of research into finding a market niche appropriate to their skills and knowledge.

They both found that there was an abundance of Chinese supermarkets; Amy herself is of Chinese heritage. But when they discovered that, apart from the odd product line being available in delis, there was not a Dutch Supermarket. The couple began networking with The Dutch Club that is based in Carnegie, and The Dutch Councillor General - all of their newfound Dutch contacts unanimously said that they would love to have a supermarket. Upon opening their store which is based in Vermont South, (check map for details), Amy and Albert placed an advertisement in the newspaper and have never had to follow up with further promotion as word of mouth has spread.

The warehouse is contained in a vast 9,000 square feet; the aisles that traverse the space and the shelving along the walls are filled with 2,600 different products. The staff number two full-time and five part-timers who all have a thorough knowledge of what they sell; confectionary, large rounds of cheeses, herring, traditional vegetables, grocery items - puddings, custards, soups and soaps, ceramic ware, handmade painted tiles, clogs, cookware, clocks, rugs, magazines. I sampled some Specuulas biscuits, a ginger flavoured biscuit that was very delicious.

Once and sometimes twice a year, the owners visit Holland to retain relationship with suppliers, and follow up on requests for new products by customers. Amy says that the majority of their regular customers are the elderly Dutch who mostly like the older, famous Dutch brands, that to them represent the Holland that they remember of 50 years ago. So Amy and Albert don't like to confuse loyal customers too much by adding in many new products, they aim for a balance, to please customers who are after new products, usually younger generation customers as well as the older ones. Amy and Albert take their responsibility of serving the community seriously by retaining affordable products. The younger clientele buy mainly from the confectionary aisles. Within De Hollandse Winkel there is a place for young and old. Amy tells of a Grandfather and his Grandson who meet every Sunday to sit in the café and talk.

this page last modified on April 22 2007 ~ this site open since 23 August 2001 - © 2001 - 2024 shopworthy

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