HOLLAND, Mich. — Tulip Time is just around the corner. A big part of the festival traditions are the wooden shoes you see the dancers wear in the parade. The shoes are called 'klompen' or 'clogs' and De Klomp Wooden Shoe & Delftware Factory in Holland still makes the shoes the old fashioned way.
At the shop you'll see unique things that you won't find anywhere else. Staff paint traditional Dutch pottery you only see in the Netherlands called delftware and make wooden shoes using old technology.
"These machines are over 125-years-old," manager Jacob Veldheer said.
Veldheer refers to himself as a jack of all trades, running the shop with his father, making the wooden shoes by hand and helping with his family's tulip farm.
“Definitely got a lot of Dutch in me," he said with a laugh.
De Klomp Wooden Shoe & Delftware Factory has been in his family for decades. They're one of the only traditional wooden shoe makers in the country, although to save on costs they have been shipping premade shoes from the Netherlands to their store as well. However, with the pandemic affecting supply chain, the past few years have been hard.
“Whole shipping chain is going crazy. It's one of those things we're still working around," Veldheer said.
Despite the shipping delays and higher costs, they are ready to bring customers back into their store after not having a Tulip Time in 2020 and having a reduced celebration in 2021.
“Luckily we're still here," he said. "Where a lot of people unfortunately didn’t make it. We're slowly trying to get it back to normal and we're going to keep going as long as we can."
The business is a family affair. Jacob's grandfather, Vernon Veldheer, started Veldheer Tulip Gardens, the only tulip farm in Holland after World War II. At 96-years-old he still farms the plants and gets them ready for the festival every year.
Wooden shoes go back all the way back to 1230 AD. The Dutch wore them to prevent food disease while farming and working in rainy, wet conditions. It helped them much better than leather shoes. Now, the wooden shoes are a symbol of Holland culture and traditions. The shoes at De Klomp Wooden Shoe & Delftware Factory are made for wear, for decoration and for traditional dancing.