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Stylishly Doing Good: The Secret of Gentlemen's Place

Updated: Jan 28

Doing good is often associated with gestures, such as donating donations or helping old ladies cross the street. But I realized that it can also be found closer to home, for example by doing your job as a shopkeeper with passion and compassion. In a cozy shopping street in the Dutch village of Aalsmeer, you'll find Gentlemen's Place, a menswear shop I love walking into.

As soon as you step inside, you are welcomed from behind the large bar that takes up almost a third of the shop. They invariably offer you a delicious cup of coffee, which always tastes better than in an average restaurant. The two owners are also always cordial and welcoming.

One day, I saw a beautiful dark blue gilet there with a colorful inner lining. I tried it on, but unfortunately, it was just a size too small. When I hung it back, one of the owners, named Christiaan, asked with a smile, "Do you like it?"

I replied that if it were a woman, I would spontaneously fall in love, but that I would only come and buy it in a month's time because it was too small now. I explained that I had just started an intensive training program and expected to lose weight within 2-3 kilos, which would then make the gilet fit.

Christiaan looked at me piercingly and asked, "Are you sure it will fit you in a month?" Before I knew it, he grabbed the gilet from the rack and carefully stuffed it into a bag. "Please, if you fit it in a month, come back and settle your purchase."

What a service! But it went beyond that. He understood better than anyone that this gesture would also motivate me to keep training hard until the gilet fit perfectly. Three weeks later, I returned, dressed in my new gilet, to check out my purchase. And of course, I expanded my clothing collection with some other items from the shop.

At Gentlemen's Place, it's not just about clothes, but also the human touch and small gestures that make all the difference. That makes shopping there not only fun but also inspiring. In fact, it is a form of doing good.

Kindness and service as a form of doing good

Doing good in the form of kindness and service can easily be overlooked. When you enter somewhere as a customer and you feel seen and heard and you are treated like a king, it makes your day. You could say that it should be the most normal thing in the world, but unfortunately, in my view, it is far from always the case. After all, you need the right mindset for that.

What the founders Christiaan and Peter of Gentlemen's Place do damn well with their mindset is:

  1. Sincere advice: They are not about turnover, but about the happily satisfied customer who leaves the premises feeling good about the shop and themselves.

  2. A warm welcome: You don't have to buy anything, you are also welcome for a cup of coffee and a friendly chat.

  3. Inspiration: Choosing clothes is difficult for some people. Because of their passion and talent for combining clothes, they immediately see what does or does not suit them. In addition, they dress differently every day to inspire customers.

  4. Unique collection: Gentlemen's Place's selective buying policy means you will find gems in clothing that cannot be found everywhere.

  5. Self-confidence: It's not just women who feel better about themselves when they are nicely dressed. Men too gain more self-confidence and that too is a gift the founders are happy to give.

Doing good may have a price

Gentlemen's Place is not the cheapest menswear shop around. On the contrary, they are by no means expensive. You could argue that at an exclusive shop, you shouldn't expect anything but this kind of service, but that's not what I'm talking about.

Why this is a form of doing good for me, is because both men exude a passion for menswear and prove it with their mindset, range, and way of being. It is almost their life mission to make every man who walks in the door leave with style, elegance, and full of confidence. With or without a purchase. You can only succeed if that passion flows through your veins and that may well come at a price.

Anyone can greet someone warmly and offer them a cup of coffee. Many can give honest advice, some have a unique collection, but few can make you leave the shop full of confidence. Christiaan Sijnen and Peter Willemse have mastered all four of these aspects, and that makes them unique and true gentlemen.

Doing Traditional Good with Fashion

Is the above then all Christiaan and Peter do to do their bit for society? No, because only doing good by delivering outstanding service does not give them enough satisfaction.

That's why, for instance, they dress two stars each year for DownTown Ophelia's fashion show. This is a foundation that draws attention in a spectacular way to the talents and abilities of people with Down syndrome or another mental disability. They let people with this condition take center stage at a grand event every year to show that they also deserve opportunities in the job market.

Both men also don't shy away from being asked to be judges at events such as '#skillsthefinals2023'. At this event, hundreds of VMBO pupils and MBO students compete for the prestigious title of Dutch Champion in their field. Eight amazing students competed for the title of "best sales specialist". An expertise they know like no other.

This is just a small sample of the initiatives that emerge from their damn good mindset, not to mention the initiatives they take on alongside their menswear business.

Doing good is a mindset, but sometimes it can be as simple as doing your craft from your passion and with compassion, and Christiaan and Peter are prime examples of this.

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