Dik Nooij looks back at all the memorable experiences he had working at the renowned tobacco shop in the heart of Amsterdam.
In October, an evening of live music and merriment was organised to commemorate Nooij’s years of dedicated service atP.G.C. Hajenius. Guests delighted in the lively ambiance and honoured Nooij with a personalised golden plaque on the shop counter, made as a tribute to the exceptional contributions he has provided for half a century.
A fourth generation Amsterdamer, Nooij has been a permanent fixture at Hajenius since his first day on the job. “I have always been interested in specialty shops and when I first visited Hajenius, I knew I wanted to work there,” he says. “Once I completed my studies at the business school in 1965, I inquired about opportunities and was hired the next day – I have been there ever since.”
Affectionately known as ‘Mr. Hajenius’, Nooij has become a household name for cigar and pipe tobacco enthusiasts who appreciate a certain level of skill and expertise when choosing their favourite products. His extensive knowledge of tobacco, friendly disposition and passion for customer service are why he has gathered such a long list of loyal and diverse clientele over the years.
“The shop originally catered to an upper class clientele but, with the enormous tourism generated over the years in Amsterdam, all kinds of people are now visiting us from all over the world,” he says. “I’ve served Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Prince of the Netherlands, many people from China, Russia… it’s beautiful! Hajenius is for everyone.”
The history of one of Europe’s most illustrious cigar houses dates back to 1826, when Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius moved to Amsterdam with a dream to open a premium cigar shop. Commissioning only the best cigar-makers to create his own brand of cigars, Hajenius ensured that only top quality tobacco from Indonesia was used, which made an immediate impact with dignitaries, industrialists and royal houses.
In 1914, the P.G.C. Hajenius shop relocated to a monumental art deco building in the Rokin district, a strategic location in the centre of Amsterdam that made this purveyor of cigars and other tobacco goods famous with locals and tourists alike. Craftsmanship is evident throughout the shop, from the impressive selection of premium handmade cigars and pipe tobacco blends from around the world to the lavish interiors decorated in oak, leather, Italian marble and ornamental chandeliers. The space is elegant yet accessible, a tribute to Amsterdam’s storied architectural heritage and old-world charm.
“It’s like my second home, so it’s always a joy going to the shop,” he says. “Fifty years is a big part of one’s life, but I have always done it with pleasure – I am proud of Hajenius.”