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SONY DSCThanks to my dear friends Doris, Tsai Chin and Daniele, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Leiden, Netherlands, during September 2012…  Great time and most enjoyable company!

Leiden is a beautiful town but my target today in writing this post, is to share with you a precious moment of my visit…

Walking along Oude Rijn, I noticed a bike shop…



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Not just an ordinary one but one full of character and history. I went in… looked around … it was like a museum. Ready to visit?

Let me introduce you to the owner Mr. Koos van Polanen. From a family of bike shop owners, his father started a bike storage business in 1929, the year of the crash. Massive unemployment, even in Holland.

Koos started his own shop in 1966, in the street behind the one his current shop is in. He ran it for 25 years, but was left by his only two employees, a decision that affected him sufficiently to go into business alone. He rented out the old shop, which was converted to a shoe shop, and kept (or opened) his little shop on the “Oude Rijn”.

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He has been running the shop over 20 years, it is his life and he wouldn’t know what to do without it (at least in winter…). He does it for the money, but importantly, also for social contact. He sees many types of people in the shop, who he would not otherwise.

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It’s a nice little shop with antique bicycle stuff. Tourists particularly like the old-fashioned velocipede out front.

He has two sons, who have bike shops of their own.  They both started at 18. His is the smallest shop, but he might be the happiest owner. Now his health is declining and time for retirement is coming, may be 2014 will see the end of years of labor and passion…


Koos had these words full of wisdom and even said them in French :

“C’est la vie”…

To end this post, here is Koos talking about himself and his life, his bike shop. Grateful to my friend Syd, who made this interview possible. Thanks a lot, Syd, you did a great job!


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