Local businesses thrive despite expansion of large international chains

Despite the rapid growth of large international chains, smaller and medium enterprises have a great opportunity to thrive in the downtown area of Groningen.

The municipality of Groningen and the Groningen City Club (GCC) work closely together to ensure an economically successful city centre.

Herestraat is one of the most prominent shopping streets in Groningen where Zara, a large international fashion store, is currently heavily expanding.

But aside from that the downtown area has an array of streets bustling with unique antique furniture and decoration stores, clothing stores and cafés. Eric Bos, president of GCC, points out Zwanestraat, which was voted ‘best shopping street in the Netherlands 2016’ as representing Groningen’s success in supporting small and medium enterprises.

One of these local businesses in Zwanestraat is Ouí, a small, neatly decorated fashion shop. Vivian Sodderland, an employee says the success formula of the street is the combination of different shop categories like clothing, food and living.

“In every big city there are main streets like Herestraat,” she told The Scoop, but streets like Zwanestraat, with one of a kind, unique options that you will not be able to find elsewhere, is “what is making the City of Groningen what it is”.

The yearly fashion event 050&Mode will take place for the third time from September 23 to 24 in downtown Groningen including large international chains as well as small local stores.

Ouí participated in last year’s event and will be involved again, Sodderland said. “There was nice music, fashion shows and outside activities.” The event has had a positive effect on profits at Ouí and she expects this year to be just as successful.

The ‘Retail Academy’ is another project in which local entrepreneurs are “given opportunities to participate in development” of the City of Groningen. The Project has attracted over 500 participants so far, Bos said.

Bos said that small and medium enterprises are “as important as bigger ones.”

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