Albert Heijn, HEMA, Blokker – An homage to unique Dutch ‘winkels’

“Who’s Albert Heijn?”

I’m sure that we internationals are way too familiar with this thought that most of us probably had on their first day in the Netherlands. My first ‘encounter’ with Albert Heijn was quite funny when my Dutch roommate told me that we have an “Albert” just around the corner. “Wait, who’s Albert and what do we want from him?!” was my first critical thought. And suddenly, everywhere I went in Utrecht, Albert was there: sometimes camouflaged in a kiosk-style as AH to go or as the ultimate hypermarket experience, Albert Heijn XL. It didn’t take long until I realized: Surviving in the Netherlands without your Albert Heijn Bonuscard?! Mission Impossible! In the mood for some snacks? Check out Albert Heijn’s cheese or stroopwafel tasting morsels.Yum. AH shopping

AH or Appie (as the locals also call ‘him’), has the highest market share of supermarkets in the Netherlands. It was founded as a small convenience store in 1887 by the real man Albert Heijn in Oostzaan (province of Noord Holland) and made its way up to national (and international) popularity. Today, AH also runs stores in Belgium, parts of Germany and Curaçao. Oh, and not to forget- Albert Heijn even has a delivery service, just sayin’…

To get your impressions of AlbertHeijn approved, check out this video of John Fealey’s experiences at Albert Heijn:

Next to Albert Heijn, there is the phenomenon of HEMA. HEMA is a Dutch department chain and if you now think that Hema was Albert Heijn’s wife- I’m sorry, false assumption. The initials stand for ‘Hollandse Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij Amsterdam’, which indicates HEMA’s even prices, so no 9,99€ offers. HEMA also is a kind of Dutch tradition. It was founded in 1926 and it offers almost everything in regard to basic clothing, household goods, electronics, decoration and home accessories to food (their famous “rookworst”) with their own brands.thWGD8NX92I always start looking for something in particular at HEMA and eventually, I end up buying all these handy, little things, such as postcards, pillowcases, candy etc. , HEMA’s ‘whistle jingle’ earworm included! HEMA is also famous for its affordable food offers, such as breakfast for 2€. Good news by the way for those of you who live in Belgium, France, Germany or the UK – HEMA has also expanded there, so you will never have to go without stroopwafels anymore.

Last, but not least, there is Blokker. Blokker is a Dutch chain for household goods which was founded in 1896 in Hoorn. At Blokker, you can also get kind of everything related to household goods, cooking utensils, gardening, children’s toys, decoration and accessory products, and also branded articles. Together with offers from HEMA, Blokker once in a while also offers discounted train tickets, so keep your eyes open for cheap deals to see more of the Netherlands for less.


By Alissa Geiger

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