Stroopwafel animals, stroopwafel jewellery, stroopwafel bowls …
Tessa Halm is proud of the history and culture of her city. That has been her motivation behind The Gouda Shop since the opening last year. She wanted to fill in the gap that had previously been empty in Gouda: a gift shop with authentic, locally made craft items. Wafflelujah had a chat.
How about you and stroopwafels?
“I like stroopwafels, like almost everyone. I still think it is a crazy phenomenon that they are known all over the world, but that there are people from around her who do not know that stroopwafels originate in Gouda. So far about stroopwafels. But thinking about a little plastic bag with stroopwafel nibs, I get sentimental. It makes me think of secondary school. After lectures we often went with a few friends to get a bag of stroopwafel scraps. I almost have a tangible memory of that last bit of crumbs in that bag. If I ever buy them now, I don’t find them yummy at all. But that memory is all the sweeter. “
Why do you love Gouda?
“Gouda feels very tolerant to me. You really don’t have to come from here to love it. There are so many people who do a lot for the city and who are all “imports”. I am thinking, for example, of one of the initiators of the Gouda Cheese Experience. That lady is from Brabant. I wasn’t born in Gouda myself, but I’ve been living here since I was three. So I consider myself a ‘Gouda original’. Furthermore, it’s very pleasant that everything here is within walking distance. And if you crave for nature, you can cycle to the Reeuwijkse Plassen.”
Do you have favourite hideaway?
“Oh my, that’s a difficult question. I like the Vroesenpark, and the Houtmansplantsoen as well. However, I think my favorite spot is around the church. When the streets are quiet around there, you imagine yourself in the Middle Ages. The city center breathes culture and history! “
How do you find the creative makers you work with?
“It started with a few makers. Some of them I knew by name when I started. Some artists discovered the store for themselves and popped in to introduce their work. What I like the most is when we develop new things together. Dieuwertje Verhagen, who designs the stroopwafel art, is a good example of this. I am really proud of the creative townspeople who showcase Gouda in their work in so many different ways.”
Why this store?
“I used to have such a slumbering feeling that I would like to have a shop someday. I even once attended a distance class to become an entrepreneur. In addition to my work as an office manager, I also had a bed & breakfast for a while. My last job as an office manager turned out different than I expected. That got me thinking: What do I really want in terms of work, deep in my heart? Then this idea bubbled up.”
Where do you get your inspiration from?
“Most of the inspiration for me comes from the city, my store is all about Gouda! That is also why I chose for the somewhat historical appearance of the store. I was looking for something lasting. With sturdy cabinets instead of glass displays; everything here is robust and authentic. And my fire is also fueled by conversations with people in the store. More and more Gouda people come take a look. They are completely surprised that this is different from the average souvenir shop. After having sniffed around for a while, they really start looking at their city differently. That makes me happy!”
What was your most memorable meeting with a customer yet?
“There is one I still remember. Last summer, a tough man entered the store. He was wearing a motorcycle jacket, spoke English and took lots of pictures. And especially of things that had Gouda on them: the T-shirts and stuff, not of the art craft. When I started talking to him, it turned out that he was on a world trip with his motorcycle. He was from Japan and his last name is Gouda. Honest! I checked his credit card for it.”