Interview: Ruud Strootman

Interview: Ruud Strootman

We win it on service and personal contact.

All shops on the Beethovenstraat are united in the ‘BIZ Beethovenstraat’, which has been under the inspiring leadership of Ruud Strootman for four years now. He also owns Jesse Jewelry. This entrepreneurial association will soon enter a new phase, which makes this a perfect time to ask him a few questions while we walk down ‘his’ street.

Why is a BIZ important for a street?
‘Without BIZ, all entrepreneurs would have to tackle the many street issues independently, which is very difficult, so it is much smarter to do this together. Just think of the contact with the municipality about safety and litter, the new party lighting and other issues’.

Why did Jesse choose the  Beethovenstraat at the time?
‘We wanted to settle in one of the better streets of Amsterdam, but certainly not in the PC. When the Kennedy clothing store closed shop, we took over the building. That was back in 1998. And we haven’t regretted it for even a second. This street fits Jesse and we fit the street.’

What makes the Beethovenstraat  so unique?
‘The pre-war history of the street, with the then very elegant clientele. And the appearance with the beautiful facades and details, some of which are still original. This old grandeur is also reflected in the size of the residential blocks. The architecture of the street is the theme, this year. You’ll be reading a lot more about this very soon.’

Have you seen the Beethovenstraat change?
‘Of course there have been a lot of changes, but that’s part of developing a street. Each period brings about changes. Lately a lot of lovely restaurants and bars have been added. Good bars and restaurants are very important for a shopping street these days. People want a yummy cocktail or a tasty lunch while they’re shopping. This also gives colour to a shopping street. Mind you, there used to be lunchrooms here in the old days as well. The pre-war and post-war catering industry. The Beethovenstraat has always been a street for people who like good food and drink.’

How do you see Beethovenstraat in the future?
‘Above all, we have to remain unique and provide an attractive range of products. That means not too much of the same. And we also have to keep up with current trends. Like accepting orders via mobile phone, something that is getting bigger in Asia, but also dynamic advertising and fast one-day parcel deliveries. You can never stand still as a street. There’s a lot of talk about the competition from the internet, but I’m convinced that in terms of a personal and a super-customer-friendly approach, we can definitely make a stand against the anonymous force of the internet. We certainly don’t win it on price, but we do win on service and personal contact’.

Will you stay on as chairman?
‘Yes, I will continue as chairman, together with my tough but fair treasurer Suzanne van Broekhuizen (from wine merchant B.J. De Logie, ed.). It is a fun, but unpaid role which, however, does take up quite a lot of my time. Attending meetings and gatherings is especially time consuming. This is not always visible to others, but of course it is necessary. We also try to involve the other entrepreneurs, but that remains a challenge. Everyone is already very busy with their own business. And yet this is important, because I am convinced that you can make more money with a well-functioning business. You’re never really done. I also have a few wishes. This year is Beethoven’s 250th birthday. How great would it be to host an annual Beethoven Concert.’