Haarlem, a charming, but sleepy town…or not quite?
Strolling through the centre of Haarlem after a three month absence, I see mostly familiar things. Buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants; the majority is still there.
Not everything though. In this day and age, small indie shops and restaurants come and go.
So each time when I return to the Netherlands, I discover that some familiar spots have vanished, while a few new, exciting initiatives have popped up.
Department store V&D went down and left a unique building behind
It’s not just the small enterprises that struggle to survive. Every now and then, a golden-oldie-giant tumbles down as well. That’s what happened to department store V&D, that used to be present in about every city center in the Netherlands since decades.
They were housed in a unique, beautiful, monumental building smack in the middle of Haarlem, which was vacant since V&D went down.
The department store is dead. Long live the department store!
To my surprise, I saw activity inside that very building when I walked past it some days ago. So I decided to go in and check it out.
Turns out that the ground floor now houses a pop-up department store, workshop space, cafe and (sometimes) bar. All together called Gather.
An innovative project that carries the slogan: “The department store is dead. Long live the department store!”
This pop-up store is a prelude to a permanent store in a location that’s in development. I’m talking about the former prison of Haarlem, the Koepel, another remarkable building, which is being turned into Architecture with a capital A by the famous architects of Mecanoo.
The future location promises to become a prestigious, iconic building, already compared with Tate Modern in London and the Atomium in Brussels.
Can’t wait for its completion; I hope this project will keep its promise: to awake, revive and hip-a-fy Haarlem (my words, by the way).
What is Gather?
Gather is a cooperative.
Its members are small-scale, creative makers, brands, labels, designers and artists.
The cooperative aims to combine various functions: department store, museum, art gallery, theatre, food and beverage location. With regular workshops, shows, events and presentations.
You can walk in freely, without any obligations, and look around in their current, temporary store in the former V&D building.
I loved exploring the store. The decor is hip, it feels spacious and I love the artistic vibe.
Browse through their creations, art and products, that are for sale as well.
Watch makers in action, talk to them about what they make, who they are, why they do what they do…
Take a moment to sit and relax in the ComeToGather Cafe, while sipping from a cappuccino or have some pastries or a sandwich.
Find out more about Gather here.
Had you heard about Gather already? What do you think about this store and concept? If you did not pay this ‘different’ department store a visit yet, then I hope you will do so soon!
I love it and really hope it is viable. I applaud and embrace it, like I do every initiative that makes Haarlem more lively, more cosmopolitan and more exciting.
You go, Gather! The Department Store is dead. Long live the Department Store!