Lutje Lokaal puts unique city contractors in the spotlight: “Motor of the Groningen economy”

Liesbeth Vonk, owner of the children’s store Hartendief, is one of the participants in Lutje Lokaal. Photo: Silvy Maatman

Lutje Lokaal took place in the center of Groningen on Saturday and Sunday. According to Hilde Bolks from LiAtelier, we can look back on two successful days.

Hi Hilde! So two successful days …
“Absolutely. We have welcomed many visitors, which was also the purpose of this event. Lutje Lokaal is a foundation to which about sixty smaller companies and catering companies are affiliated. These days, it is intended that customers and passers-by get to know new entrepreneurs, and as entrepreneurs, we also get to know each other better.It has the advantage that we can better refer to each other in the future.If we have a customer who is specifically looking for something that we know a co-entrepreneur sells, we can send “And with this day, we also want to show how much fun we have together.”

Let’s go back to the core, because I can imagine that not everyone understands exactly what Lutje Lokaal is …
“With locals, you can certainly make the association that we sell products that are made locally. That the comparison is made with regional products. This is not always true, because as entrepreneurs we also get our products from all over the world. The definition for us is that we encourage people to buy it in your own area. Lutje means ‘small’. Buy from the small business. ”

And you’ve opened the doors wide these days, have you?
“Yes, we wanted to show people what we have to offer. For example, I gave a series of workshops here at LiAtelieret and it was a lot of fun to do. Colleague entrepreneurs mainly had small gifts with shopping, tastings, in-store music, color advice and fashion shows. But there were also workshops that could be followed and there were storytellers. And the good thing is that entrepreneurs are valued. We did a survey and it shows that more than 69% of shoppers come to the city center because of the unique shops. ”

Now we have had a number of very crazy years where many things were not possible. Do you suffer from it too?
“Yes. During the corona crisis, we were especially very busy with ourselves, how could we keep our heads above water. Now there’s another challenge. If you ask me honestly, I think a lot of people need to learn to shop again. You can also answer the question themselves. What is shopping? For many people, it means going on a mission to get home as quickly as possible. But it can be so much more fun. I think we as entrepreneurs have it in us , that you can stroll around here all day long, that you have time off, that you do not have to do anything, that your phone is off, and that you can look around, be inspired and get in touch with products that you did not know existed “Many people have to learn that again.”

Is it also because people may not know what to find locally?
“I think it’s part of that. I’ve already mentioned a survey. It shows that 90 per cent of respondents want to buy more locally if they know which companies are small and local. “We still have something to gain. Therefore, we are working on a city guide to give an overview of what exists and where these entrepreneurs can be found. Thirty entrepreneurs have now indicated that they want to participate in this.”

You sound excited. It sounds like hosianna …
“I honestly think that Groningen is very rich in supply. If you put the entrepreneurs associated with Lutje Lokaal side by side, you come to the conclusion that they are all an important engine for the Groningen economy. This makes the shopping city of Groningen unique and special and therefore also worth a visit. Groningen is perhaps also one of the best shopping cities in Western Europe in this respect. Everything is within walking distance and there is a varied offer. And of course, not everything goes well. If you compare the situation for entrepreneurs associated with Lutje Lokaal with four years ago, a number of companies have gone bankrupt. Not everyone has a lot of fat on their bones. ”

Can more things be done better?
(After a long thought) You know. We are very happy for Groningen municipality and Groningen City Club. For example, the municipality supports us with a digitization project, where we receive marketing and a web building budget. But I think Groningen politicians should pay more attention to us. The city center will be overhauled in the coming years, and it is important that our voice is also well represented in this. ”

It is the intention that in six months another Lutje Lokaal will be held, with the aim of connecting even more entrepreneurs and catering companies.

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