Date: August 2019
Author: Inspector Z

New name and new ownership Van Lookeren. The renowned tobacconist Van Lookeren in Amsterdam has been sold and will get a name change. Shop manager Nasier Kassim and his niece Faiza Hassenmahomed have bought the shop from the previous owner Ria van Nugteren. Ria and her late husband Berry ran the shop for the last few decades and created a tobacconist with a great reputation. The shop was opened in 1902.

Ministry of Cigars - New name and new ownership Van Lookeren
Faiza Hassenmahomed and Nasier Kassim

Kassim was hired as shop manager almost four years ago when Berry van Nugteren could not be in the shop as often due to terminal illness. As a cigar aficionado, it was a dream job for Kassim. Working with tobacco only made his appreciation for cigars grow. So when Ria talked about retiring, Kassim jumped to the opportunity. With his niece and some crowdfunding, he managed to buy the shop. Kassim said to Ministry of Cigars that “as a cigar aficionado this was the best thing that could happen to me. To own such a beautiful shop in the most beautiful city in the world is a dream come true. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.”.

Changes in name and staff

There will be minor changes made in the shop. Kassim decided to change the name but wanted to keep the history and the Van Lookeren reputation intact. Since he’s a vegan, Ministry of Cigars jokingly suggested Vegan Lookeren. But considering the cigar culture, the new owners decided to pick Huize van Lookeren. Huize is ‘house from’ in Dutch and Casa in Spanish. So Casa Van Lookeren, but then in the local language.

As for staff, Kassim will continue to be the face of the shop. His business partner Hassenmahomed has her own business to run so she won’t be working in the shop. She will be working behind the screen and is an equal partner in all strategic decisions. Long-time shop assistant Jennifer resigned a few weeks ago to pursue a career in food & beverage, unrelated to the management buy-out. She’s joining a brownie shop, owned by close friends of her. So if you live in the Amsterdam area, and you’re looking for a retail job at a tobacconist, contact Van Lookeren. There are two part-time jobs open, for 16-32 hours a week.

Kassim said that he’ll be finetuning the assortment. The shop is located in a luxurious shopping mall. And the assortment will represent that. Of course, cigars and accessories in all price ranges will be available, but the focus will shift from the lower end of the price range to the more luxurious items. The fantastic speakeasy lounge in the basement of the shop will remain unchanged. Ministry of Cigars will be in Amsterdam in a few weeks, and we will be visiting the shop at Gelderlandplein in Amsterdam. And maybe to one of our cigar reviews in the speakeasy-style lounge.

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