Old and reliable: the oldest shops in Groningen

Small entrepreneurs are increasingly confronted with competition from large chain stores and international websites. Luckily, there are still Groningen residents who frequent that familiar and traditional baker on the corner of the street, or that one specialist shop with great service. While we often highlight the latest trendy hotspots in the city, this time we will focus on established venues and names. Let’s put you on track of some shops that have been here since forever. We hope you’ll find a ‘golden oldie’ among them.

H. Witting & Zoon (since 1876)

Oosterstraat 51 – The oldest shop in the city is the hat and cap specialist shop H. Witting & Zn, which has been a household word in the city and province of Groningen for over 135 years. This small historic museum features old shop windows, an antique cash register from its early days, an authentic item from the shipbuilding industry and, naturally, plenty of headgear. From the one and only Groningen seaman’s cap (only available here) to the well-known ‘Peaky Blinders’ cap and high-quality hats made from pure new wool to gloves and other fashion accessories, hat lovers from far beyond the provincial borders find their way here. Be sure to try something on, because everyone has a head for a Witting hat.

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H. Witting & Zoon (sinds 1876)

Crebas (since 1888)

Steentilstraat 7 – True, the in-house bakery of baker Crebas was discontinued two years ago, but the shop continues. Today, their bread and pastry are prepared – according to traditional methods – in the nearby village of Loppersum. This friendly Crebas shop has a rich history and proudly bears the Royal Coat of Arms and the title ‘By Appointment to the Court of the Netherlands.’ The mere twelve square meters of shop surface by no means prevents the baker from displaying all kinds of delicacies. Crebas’ specialities include the Academiepleintje – a richly-filled butter cake with candied fruit and almonds – and the Crème der A, a half-spherical cake wrapped in hazelnut pieces. In the past, Crebas would take his baker’s cart from door to door; today, you can find them in the Steentilstraat.

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Crebas (sinds 1888)

Heijkens (since 1895)

Akerkstraat 15 – Over 120 years ago, the great-grandfather of the present Heijkens owner started this printing business in the city. The warehouse – all of which that is left today is the signboard – was located opposite the printing business in the Akerkstraat. The shop is still there. You might not immediately associate a historic family business with advanced machines and ultramodern technology, but this is exactly what you see at Heijkens. Clients come to this printing and engraving company to order their printed matter, packaging and stamps. Be sure to visit and get personal advice on a design for your gift with engraving, wonderful gift packaging or a custom-made card or birth announcement card. Feel free to take your printer’s proof home. As we said: Heijkens is all about service.

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Heijkens (sinds 1895)

Kaashandel van der Leij (since 1934)

Oosterstraat 61-63 – With over 300 cheese varieties, this is the place to be for a delicious cheeseboard, cheese fondue or a good slice of cheese for your sandwich. They are not highly stocked in ‘trendy cheeses’: cheeses that are popular not because they are particularly tasty, but because they are somehow in vogue. Currently, regional cheeses find ready buyers, and Van der Leij has a good selection of such cheeses available. Their clientele is as varied as their cheese selection, and ranges from seniors to students and families to young, employed people. It’s obvious that cheese lovers have come to the right place here. 

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Kaashandel van der Leij (sinds 1934)

More ‘golden oldies’

In addition to these five established names, you will find many, many more wonderful and historic shops and family businesses in both the city and province. One example is Wijnkoperij Jos Beeres (since 1879), that used to have a shop in the city since its establishment, but which is now located in the Beereshoeve in the village of Noordbroek. Beeres certainly moves with the times: their extensive webshop has a selection of over 1,300 types of wine. Other well-known Groningen entrepreneurs in the same category are the members of the Hooghoudt (since 1888) family. Starting out in a small basement in the Oosterstraat, they expanded into a main and modern distillery where tours and workshops are held on a regular basis. Thirty years ago, at the time of their 100th anniversary, they were awarded the title ‘By Appointment to the Court of the Netherlands’ and received their very own street name. Last but not least, the Knol name more than deserves a place on the list. Knols Koek (since 1923) is a well-known family business that produces traditional cake to the example of grandfather Knol.

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