After the door has been cracked open and we have made our way through the many piles of books, we see Kim Heijdenrijk squatting between the reading material. She has some books in her hands and judging by the titles, they are books from The Hague. That is not very surprising since Kim is specialized in the history of The Hague.
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Co-owner of a bookshop in the Reinkenstraat
The location where we meet Kim is Colette antiquarian bookshop on Reinkenstraat, which she recently became the owner of with a motley crew. The owner of the store wanted to stop and the special store would close if someone wouldn’t be willing to take it over soon. Kim, with six other people, responded to the call and since then they have teamed up and devised a plan to save the store. The successful crowdfunding campaign helped with this and in January they were able to officially take over the store.
In addition to running a bookstore, Kim writes for Haagse Historie Magazine and the historical column Haagse Sagen every other Friday. in The Telegraph. She is also number nine on the list of candidates of the Hague City Party and mother of two children.
While we continue our conversation, we unpack a box full of gems from The Hague. About the landscape of The Hague, the history and The Hague blood of Sjaak Bral. Kim also writes books herself, always with a link to The Hague.
Writing life stories of unknown Dutch people
On her 19 Kim started writing professionally. She did this for a newspaper and she liked it so much that she went on to study journalism and started working for different media. But she always wanted to write books and if Kim wants something, she makes sure she gets it. She doesn’t look very far ahead, Kim lives as if every day is the last. And yet she manages to write fantastic books that make you look a little further into the future. And also in the past.
“The subjects of my books find me. It’s always stories that happen to me. For example, for my second book ‘Mrs Breek‘ I did research to a Weimar Street bookseller’s murder for a column I wrote. Mrs. Breek was married to him and while investigating she turned out to have so much on her plate that it had to become a book.”
Kim’s books are entrances to the life story of an unknown Dutchman and she always starts with family research. “On the basis of the biography I hang up a history or image of the time. I can find a lot online and sometimes I have to go to an archive institution such as the Hague Municipal Archives or the National Archives”. She also calls it puzzles for advanced students. “That puzzle is wonderful. You never know when the puzzle will be finished and which piece will complete the puzzle”.
61.01 booking in Colette & Co
During our conversation we are regularly distracted by the nice books we see or come across. Kim is looking for the Hague part of Antiquariaat Colette and we come across nice things there, such as a comic book from The Hague. Kim also gives us a look behind the bookshelves. The building has an old kitchen and even a storage room, but also a cellar. Everything was full of books, now only the basement. Much is being sorted out and organized. “The charm of Colette is those huge stacks of books. The megalomaniac character of the store with those large mountains and meandering paths will of course be preserved, because that is what Colette makes.” But to find out exactly what’s in the store, those piles are searched. Colette & Co estimates that there are between 70 .000 and 70. books are present in the property. Not only the store but also the books are looking for new owners. The gems are entered on