Posted on: mai 31, 2022
The most famous coffeeshop in Amsterdam, partly because it’s one of the oldest in the city. This is the first coffeeshop of The Bulldog chain and the third coffeeshop in Amsterdam. It’s where the story began.
In 1974, this used to be a sex shop, which the owner – Henk de Vries – inherited from his father. One day, a guy walked in and asked Henk if there was also pornography with animals for sale. This was the point that Henk de Vries realized that he no longer wanted to own a sex shop. After removing the customer from his store, he threw porn products into the canal. Then he told his friends that the store would be converted into a living room for the neighborhood where smoking is allowed.
Soon after it turned into something bigger as tourists began finding the place too. In December 1975, coffeeshop Bulldog the first was founded by Henk de Vries.
In the early days of Coffeeshop Bulldog The First, the shop also became as could be described as some sort of training ground for the Amsterdam police department. Police often raided the new coffeeshop multiple times on a single day. Inside this Bulldog shop you can learn and see more about this exciting history. These days the shop is more than just a cellar, it’s a full fledged coffeeshop made up out of 3 levels. Inside there’s also a souvenir shop and a nice canal side terrace for those sunny days.
Henk de Vries: Weed brings me peace in hectic moments … When I come home, I love to smoke a joint and analyse the day again in a very relaxed way. (source)
Coffeeshop Bulldog the first wasn’t the first coffeeshop in Amsterdam despite what may be claimed by some. Or Holland for that matter. The first Bulldog coffeeshop was actually the third coffeeshop to open in Amsterdam after coffeeshop Mellow Yellow and coffeeshop Rusland respectively.
The first coffeeshop in Holland wasn’t even located in Amsterdam but in Utrecht. That first coffeeshop in Holland was called Sarrasani – named after a famous German circus – and was located in a wharf cellar on the Oudegracht in Utrecht. It opened in 1968.
Cannabis policy in the Netherlands is tolerated. This means that the possession and sale of small amounts of cannabis for personal use by coffee shops is allowed, although it is officially prohibited. There is a pragmatic approach, with the government recognizing that the sale and consumption of cannabis cannot be completely eradicated, and therefore allows the sale and consumption to a limited extent. This approach is aimed at reducing the delayed impact on society and the health of users. However, the production and distribution of cannabis remains prohibited and is being combated by the police.
Coffeeshops in the Netherlands, including The Bulldog in Amsterdam, are required to obtain their supply of cannabis illegally as production and distribution is still prohibited. There is no legal market for the supply of cannabis to coffee shops. In the Netherlands, a pragmatic approach is used in which the government allows sales and consumption by coffee shops, but combats production and distribution. This means that the coffee shops must obtain their stock in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” manner. This is a policy of “ignoring” where the government allows the sale and consumption of small amounts of cannabis by coffee shops, but does not actively seek the source of the supply.
Did you know that it’s not legal in the Netherlands to produce cannabis for commercial purposes?
In 2016 the owner of the world famous Bulldog first appeared on what can be considered the Dutch Forbes 500 list (Quote 500). He entered the list on spot 254 of Holland’s wealthiest individuals. His net worth was estimated at around € 95,-million euros. Not too bad for someone who started out from a basement in a sex shop in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
Henk de Vries: I have never met a councillor or mayor who took the time to talk to me about the issues in Amsterdam Red Light District. (source)
The Dutch politicians do not want to listen to Henk de Vries. But there is interest in America. There, cannabis is becoming legal in more and more places.
Henk de Vries: “My dream comes to life there. Cannabis has become a billion-dollar business. Weed earns more than cigarettes.”
And so there are great opportunities for The Bulldog. The franchisees are eager. Those are not the least.
“I’m talking to Mike Tyson and Snoopy Dogg. They both want to open a Bulldog business. ‘You’re name is priceless’, they say. It will happen, but I prefer to open 20 businesses right away. I’ve never had business-partners, but if an investor wants to pump 200 million into The Bulldog now, we’ll have a meeting for sure. We are a healthy business, I have no debt and now is the time to move forward. The Bulldog will be much bigger than the Hard Rock cafes. Believe me!’ (source)
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