Kelly's Expat Shopping - The Story & Celebrating 14 Years

Kelly's Expat Shopping: A Little Backstory. 

Hello, there dear readers! We've decided to give you a mini-blog with an overview of the wonderful, the irreplaceable, the unstoppable... Kelly's Expat Shopping!

A little bit about our history, a little bit about the stores, and how we continue to provide a little taste of home across all of the Netherlands for you, and looking for a little inspiration on where to go next!

Whether you're an expat who has been with us from the start all those years ago in The Hague, someone on holiday who just happened to pop by, or a brand new customer who spotted the flags on the street and decided to we were the place to shop (wise choice)...

Welcome to Kelly's Expat Shopping! 

The Beginning - The Hague 

Way back in 2008 on the 30th of May (which is unbelievably 14 years ago (and 5104 days ago on the day this blog was written!)) Kelly Kelly and Jason Kelly opened the very first Kelly's Expat Shopping in a corner of the Hague known as the Piet Heinstraat... and history was made!

The initial plan was to open a shop with Jason's father, who was looking to retire to the Netherlands and spend a little more time with the whole family. After years of experience running delectable delicatessen shops across the United Kingdom, he knew a thing or two about the business of British food and this was the perfect opportunity to create a business for the entire family to enjoy and build together. Renting the space on Piet Heinstraat, the family got to work creating beautiful window displays, putting together shelves full of your favourite foods, and providing superb service to boot. 

Selling a variety of British and American goods, the shop may have been small, but it was certainly mighty.  With the British & American flags popped on the window, a shopping trolley full of amazing food on display, and the bright yellow banner saying 'Kelly's' across the front - it was simply unmissable! So unmissable in fact, that they soon realised they needed a little more space to fit their selection of goods and have enough to go round for all the expats coming to shop! And so, the shop you know and love on Zoutmanstraat was opened in 2010. 

With two long aisles, an island of freezers, and a little cul-de-sac in each corner, the store is spacious but keeps the coziness of the original. Filled to the brim with British goodies, more and more people heard Kelly's was the place to get your much-needed British bacon, Cadbury's chocolate, and of course, tea! And with this, the business grew further and in 2012 the Kelly's found their second store to open in Wassenaar. 

The Next Step - Wassenaar

On the Luifelbaan in Wassenaar, number 50 - Kelly's Expat Shopping opened in 2012. With two and a half aisles filling the space within. A long stretch past all the sweets, biscuits, and freezers to the wonderful fridges in the back - storing your favourite Richmond sausages (in a pre-Brexit world), British bacon, and all the cheese you could imagine! The corner section was a wall for bakers and the opposite was for the beer lovers of Wassenaar. And the front, of course, was reserved for special offers galore! With a wall of mince pies at Christmas, Easter eggs in Spring, and the tall Frankenstein's monster for Halloween (who we still get out to guard the pumpkins to this day!). 

Not only was this a brand new shop opportunity, but the birthplace of the wonderful webshop. Starting downstairs in the Wassenaar store with just one table and a bit of tape. There would only be a couple of orders a day, at most, and Kelly and Jason would simply nip to the local post point to send off the few parcels at the end of their shifts. However, over the years the webshop grew so they were sending off a cage full. Then two cages full... then three... then when it got to around 8 cages, the team realized maybe a few pallets would be better! 

After years of carrying parcels up and down those stairs, the webshop moved to its new location in Alphen aan den Rijn (but a little more on that later). First, we've got to jump across to the capital of the Netherlands, good old Amsterdam!

In the Heart of the Netherlands - Amsterdam

2018 rolled around and the Amsterdam franchise opened! With expats, tourists, and people just looking for a little taste of abroad - people flocked to the store on Ferdinand Bolstraat.

Right in the heart of De Pijp, this shop is perfectly situated for easy access for all our Amsterdam customers. Whether you pop in from Central, take a metro from Zuid, or wander through all those scenic streets past the canals - we popped up with the American & British flags outside and caught everyone's eye. 

In 2021 it seemed the best idea for the franchise was to come under the main management dream team. With Christmas over (and Brexit fast approaching), we got to work. We cleaned the whole shop, repainted all the floors, dusted off all the shelves, deep cleaned all the freezers, and did a bit of gardening out back just to add those finishing touches. With a team of four (including Kelly and Jason!) putting the shop back together, two drivers, and eighteen pallets worth of stock later - we opened with a bang just one week later, on the 6th January 2021! 

And what a wonderful welcome we received! Hundreds of customers said they loved the new look, adored the huge selection, and were happy their favourite expat shop wasn't upping and leaving in a post-Brexit world. 

At the Same Time...

Over in Wassenaar, the webshop was growing bigger than ever, shipping hundreds of parcels a day as many were stuck at home during the pandemic. Despite COVID, the store also grew as people wanted their favourite snacks whilst trapped at home and they went for walks during quarantine to the only place they could go -  essential shops (which included us!). 

We filled with more customers than ever (but kept to the restrictions with a maximum amount per shop for your safety), yet we knew change was needed. Kelly and Jason saw the opportunity to get just a little more space - not with just one shop, but two!

We kept the amazing location just a couple of doors down! Numbers 40 & 42 on the Luifelbaan became the latest Kelly's Expat Shopping premises and we knocked down one very thick wall to create the giant store it is today. We announced on the 1st December 2020 that we were building anew and after much building, cleaning, and clearing (whilst running the regular shop at number 50), finally on February 2nd, 2021 the doors opened!

A huge space to expand our selection with massive fridges, another island of freezers, a wall dedicated to beer and cider, another with delicious cereals and the other side with all your favourite roast dinner essentials! Wassenaar is our biggest store yet and attracts people from all over the Netherlands (with a few driving up from Germany, Belgium and even France!) 

The webshop gained bigger premises downstairs also. Sending out hundreds of orders a day with the team working away unseen. (Luckily in the new building there was a lift to send orders up to DPD, so no more carrying boxes upstairs!) and the team grew bigger than ever before! 

In the Background...

You may be wondering what's missing from this story? The Wholesale and Warehouse team!

When the shop started out it was a small truck delivery once a week. Then it upgraded to a huge lorry rolled around to Wassenaar with stock to be split between The Hague, Wassenaar, and Amsterdam. As time went on, Kelly and Jason realized everyone needed more stock than ever before. So on 20th July 2019, the wholesale and warehouse in Forepark opened. 

A vast upstairs which was filled to the brim with pallets of Cheetos, three huge, long shelving units rammed full of the British and American goodies you know and love and a gigantic walk-in freezer kept all the shops supplied and our wholesale customers happy!

Yet again though, we needed more space... so on June 17th, 2021, we opened in Alphen aan den Rijn. A humungous warehouse with rows upon rows of products! And the webshop moved with them - building their own mini-warehouse within to pick and pack your orders from to run more efficiently than ever before, sending orders all across Europe! 

And as of 20th May, Kelly's Wholesale got a brand new website too! 

2022 - Utrecht!

With a ridiculously busy 2021, taking over Amsterdam, building the Wassenaar store, moving the warehouse and the webshop and keeping stock coming post-Brexit during a pandemic,  - you'd think Kelly and Jason might take a little break (had a Kit-Kat), and stick their feet up...  but no way! 

The end of 2021 was a busy one... The weather was chilly, the webshop was busy, the shops were buzzing away and Kelly and Jason spotted the next opportunity to spread a little expat love - right in the centre of Utrecht. 

Taking out the old flooring, putting in a new ceiling, giving the walls a fresh lick of paint, then building over 70 metres worth of shelving in one store alone - Utrecht was rapidly being built to be opened on the 17th March 2022 at number 9H Nachtegaalstraat. With 24 pallets worth of goods delivered, 6 brand new freezers and a fridge that almost didn't fit through the door - the shop was built with a team of five fantastic colleagues and ready to open bang on time!

With stylish new shelving, a brand new welcome mat, and the same eye-catching British & American flags out front, we are pretty hard to miss on the most popular cycling street in the Netherlands -with over 17,000 cyclists going past daily! We received an awesome welcome from the whole city, with many saying how happy they were Kelly's finally opened here in Utrecht and that they loved the new sleek shelves.

Right Now...

Nowadays, Kelly and Jason run the biggest British & American supermarket in the Netherlands with a great team behind them. Although Jason's father never ended up moving across to the Netherlands, the dream of a family-run business came true! With new products coming in nonstop (keep an eye out for Minecraft cereal, Intergalactic Coca-Cola, and more!), the team is always growing and we are running up to the 14 Year Anniversary of Kelly's Expat Shopping on the 30th of this month!

From one small shop in The Hague to four in the Netherlands (and hopefully more to come soon).

Here is to the next 14 years! (and, you know... hopefully, some more after that!) 

01 Jun 2022
It’s a great testament to the owners that Kelly’s continue to thrive and expand. Expat stores seem to come and go, but the success of Kelly’s is clearly due to good management and ambition. Especially after all the inconvenience and extra hassle due to Brexit.
It’s also good news that they are starting to establish new stores outside the west of the Netherlands, although not yet outside the Randstad, perhaps the next step ?
Just a couple of thoughts, other online retailers are able to ship chilled and frozen goods in special polystyrene containers, is that a possibility for the future. Alternatively, a mobile delivery van with a fixed route, and fixed stops at pre arranged times, around the north, east and southern provinces ? One of the German expat stores provided this service and even popped across the border into the east of the Netherlands, providing a service where online orders (including chilled and frozen) could be collected.
01 Jun 2022
Cheryl Carpenter
What a lovely story and a great history. So glad that you weathered Brexit and still manage to stock a wide variety of goods. Thanks to you I have hardly found it necessary to make my quarterly shopping trips to England since Brexit.
31 May 2022
I'm going with Val Wrench just like she says Zeeland and the part next to it of Noord-Brabant is many Times forgotton and it would be nice to have a shops like yours Kelly's here
30 May 2022
I really love it!
And I’m not even an expat but enjoy the webshop products a lot.
Congratulations with this milestone, I hope many many many more!!

Ps. I think there is a little typo in the section of building at numbers 40&42, about the dates both in 2020.
30 May 2022
Congratulations team Kelly's. I love the store, you guys are amazing. Keep up the good work!!
30 May 2022
I love the store in The Hague packed with a lot of delicious products. During the pandemic I have regularly ordered products such as Cadbury chocolate, Bagels, Kipling Fruit Pies etc.I wish you all the best for the future and hope to order my favourite products for a long time.
30 May 2022
yvonne koeleman
What a beautiful site, Congrats on your anniversary.
Hope to visit the shop soon!
30 May 2022
Val Wrench
There are a lot of British & American people living in Zeeland (the forgotten province).
Please come down here so that we can get fresh & frozen products .As we cant get things like bacon or sausages on line ,
30 May 2022
William E Weedman
I never knew the story of my favorite expat store, I've only been here since 2015 so be easy on me, although I am quite familiar with Dutch directness from my wife! If you ever need an extra hand with the warehouse or the webshop I live right in Alphen & might consider ditching my crazy commute into Amsterdam!
30 May 2022
Kevin Sims
Been a customer for about five years now in Wassenaar.Brilliant shop with everything ive missed from England.Luckely for me the new shop in Utrecht is open and it saves me a 70 minute journey to Wassenaar.Looking forward to many years great service from Utrecht.
Congratulations with your anniversary.Please keep them sausages coming. (smile)
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