Herbs and spices have many uses and benefits, even adding the sweet smell of success to plans a young housewife began to concoct in a home industry she started more than 20 years ago.
Today Thelma Oosthuizen, owner of the ever-expanding Allegaartjie gift shop and coffee bar in Stilbaai, traces the growth of her business back to the herbs and spices she prepared at home and sold after getting married in 1994.
Looking back to the beginnings of Allegaartjie, a name meaning potpourri or mixed grill, she attributes its existence and growth not just to her determination to save every spare cent she earned from selling herbs and spices, but also largely to the unstinting parental support that encouraged and gave substance to her dreams.
As a businesswoman, Linda Gordon, Thelma’s mother, was able to steer her to the property the shop first occupied in Stilbaai, and then partnered her financially, and in running the shop, which sold herbs and spices, of course, along with gifts, shoes and second-hand furniture.
Johnny Gordon, Thelma’s father, built every shelf and cupboard in the first shop, and when those premises became too small after a few years, he built all the shelves and other fittings for the larger shop Allegaartjie now occupies in a prime position in Stilbaai West. Linda Gordon’s financial backing helped Thelma buy the property on which the new shop was built, as well as another building next door.
Today Allegaartjie sells gifts, kitchenware, skincare products, carpets and mats, watches and watch batteries, photo frames and mirrors, shoes, and herbs and spices. An adjacent coffee bar caters to crowds of customers, serving hot and cold drinks, sweet and savoury pancakes, soft-serve ice cream and light meals.
Her mother is now semi-retired, and Thelma’s daughter, Didi Serfontein, has stepped into the place Linda occupied in the business.
Thelma is still planning. She’s on the verge of launching what she envisages as “a destination”: an area that will house three adjacent shops – Allegaartjie, Cottonfields, a clothes shop, and the Stilbaai Trading Post in a building her husband, Gerhard Oosthuizen, bought.
Thelma dreams that the area from which the three shops display their wares will be the first of a kind in Stilbaai, answering to the needs of everyone who visits them.
She is confident that the distinctiveness of what she is still planning will before year-end add spice to the substance of consumers’ shopping requirements.