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Roots of Dutch import business lie in door-to-door visits and delivery

Delicatessen and dry goods

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HAMILTON, Ontario - The history of the Dutch delicatessen and dry goods import business remains largely unwritten and may well be in danger of being lost forever.

Many families throughout Canada and the U.S.A. started a business in this field. In a number of cases, the entrepreneurs already had retail experience in the Netherlands - the post-World War II shortages of all kinds forced many to abandon their trade - which they took up again in the New World. Others entered it when employment opportunities turned out to be rather in short supply.

The initial steps of many such entrepreneurs were those of a door-to-door, back-of-the-van service where they relied on referrals to find out new customers. The business of many peddlers evolved into a regular store location, although often complemented with either a delivery system or peddler route. A few of them operated a permanent out-door market stall in a time when farmers' markets still were a novelty.

As part of theProject I Remember, the editors of the Windmill Herald have collected some stories and anecdotes from the families of a number of these entrepreneurs. However much more needs to be collected and preserved, including 1950s documents such as wholesale invoices, pricelists, catalogues and receipts as well as retail pricelists, advertisements, specials' bulletins, mailers, pictures of relating activities, "company histories" and anecdotes.

Below is an incomplete list of these entrepreneurs. Readers are requested to add those names that should be part of the list of former peddlers: in British Columbia, the following already are listed: Jan Alderliesten, Hans Blom, Ben Bolt, Dirk DeBoer, Joh. DeHaas, DeWolff, Olivier, Verlaan; in Ontario: Bezemer, Den Hartog, the Kok Bros., Evert Kok, Schuringa, Sol, Van den Top, Van der Velde, Van Dyk(e) Bros., Veurtjes Bros.; Gerry Blom in the Maritimes; VanderSluis and VanderVeen in Michigan. Old pictures taken of these individuals and/or their as yet unnamed collegues - during visits with customers at their homes or at the store - are requested on loan for computer scanning and entry in the Windmill Archives.

Envelopes marked Project I Remember should be send to: the Windmill Archives, care of the Windmill Herald.
In Canada: P.O. Box 3006, Stn. LCD 1, Langley, BC, V3A 4R3
In U.S.A.: P.O. Box 313, Lynden, WA 98264-0313.